Maple Leaf Foods plans to outsource all its fresh turkey processing to another company’s southern Ontario plant in 2018 after shutting its own operation.
The company announced Tuesday it will close its plant at Thamesford, Ont., east of London, after phasing its production over the next 18 months into Sofina Foods’ plant at Mitchell, about 60 km north.
“This new processing agreement will result in a more efficient and scaled turkey processing industry in Ontario,” the company said in a release, giving it “a cost-effective supply of high quality fresh turkey for further processing.”
CEO Michael McCain said the agreement with Sofina will allow it to continue to develop its market position and producer relationships “while retaining complete ownership of the high-quality supply required to support growth in our value-added business.”
Shutting the Thamesford plant, he said, “was a very difficult decision given the impact on our employees and the community, but necessary given the substantial physical limitations at our 80-year-old Thamesford plant.”
The company said it will help staff at the plant to secure “alternate employment” at other Maple Leaf plants or elsewhere.
Asked about its plans for the Thamesford facility, Maple Leaf said it’s “committed to working with the local community to identify alternate uses for the property.”
The federally inspected Thamesford facility is approved for poultry slaughter, boning and cutting, halal slaughter, and approved to export to the U.S., Mexico and South Africa.
The Thamesford plant was previously operated by Cold Springs Farm, which entered a turkey processing joint venture with Maple Leaf Foods in 1999, after which Maple Leaf closed its turkey plant at Walkerton, Ont.
Maple Leaf took over Cold Springs as a fully owned subsidiary by 2008 and sold Cold Springs’ turkey breeding and hatchery businesses to Cuddy Farms in 2013.
Sofina’s turkey plant at Mitchell is a former pork plant, which it bought last year for renovation after the former owner, Great Lakes Specialty Meats, went into receivership . — AGCanada.com Network