Pork packer HyLife to enter expansion mode

Manitoba hog slaughter and pork processing firm HyLife says it’s setting itself up for major expansions of its hog finishing and pork processing capacities.

The company on Friday said “steady growth in demand” for its pork products overseas calls for an investment of up to $125 million in its integrated pork operations, to start “as early as 2017.”

The expansions and upgrades involved are to include a further expansion of its pork processing plant at Neepawa, Man., about 75 km northeast of Brandon, setting up a full double shift at that facility.

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HyLife said it pictures those expansions as including “innovative technologies to improve yields and processes and increase shelf life.”

Speaking Monday on the pork industry program Farmscape, Hylife president Claude Vielfaure said the plan calls for expansion of 130,000 square feet at Neepawa, to include a “much bigger cut floor than we have today” and added space for packaging and shipping.

Apart from the pork plant, Hylife said it would also invest in new finishing barns and a feed mill. The company last year announced plans to build a feel mill in the southeastern Manitoba RM of Hanover.

In all, the company said Friday, the expansions would create “up to 165” jobs in communities where it operates.

The expansions, Vielfaure said, will allow Manitoba pig production that’s now sold to the U.S. to be finished and processed in the province instead.

“HyLife’s investment into growing our Japanese and Chinese markets has been very rewarding and is sending the signal that we can do more,” he said in a release.

“This new investment in Manitoba will mean not only more jobs across the province but a greater demand for value-added pork thanks to our integrated system and our great primary producer partners.”

HyLife said Friday it has become Canada’s No. 1 exporter of fresh chilled pork to Japan, booking about $200 million in annual sales from that market. The company recently opened a Tokyo restaurant to showcase its pork products.

The company said it has also been a “steady presence” in the Chinese market, making about $80 million in sales per year since it first sold into China in 2008. Last month, the company said, it signed a contract with Chinese e-commerce platform JD.com.

“HyLife has taken that unique Japanese consumer demand for its domestic pork and worked tirelessly to recreate this taste profile at home in our integrated production and processing system,” Vielfaure said.

La Broquerie, Man.-based HyLife, which set up in 1994 in southeastern Manitoba as a hog production firm under the name VL4/Janzen, took over the Springhill Farms pork packing plant at Neepawa in 2008 and rebranded from Hytek to HyLife in 2011.

The federally inspected packing plant is also approved to ship to the U.S., Russia, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Peru, Vietnam and Ukraine.

The Neepawa plant in 2011 received $10 million in financing under the previous federal Conservative government’s Slaughter Improvement Program, Neepawa area MP Robert Sopuck noted in a separate release Monday.

“The investment enhanced Hylife Foods’ production capacity so they could be better positioned to take advantage of growth opportunities,” he said. “This new investment shows that the program was successful.” — AGCanada.com Network

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