Premium Brands buys Toronto burger processor

Toronto custom burger maker Belmont Meats has become the latest subsidiary of Vancouver food processing firm Premium Brands.

Premium Brands, which owns assorted processing and distribution businesses across Western Canada, Ontario and the U.S., on Thursday announced it has paid $50 million – $49.2 million in cash and $800,000 in Premium common shares — for all of Belmont’s shares.

Premium CEO George Paleologou said the company “expect(s) to generate significant synergies between Belmont’s business, our burger operations in Western Canada and our Centennial Foodservice business’ recently announced initiative to expand into the Ontario market.”

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Also, he said, “Belmont’s strong management team significantly enhances our bench strength in the Ontario market.”

Belmont, whose recent annual sales have run around $120 million, is considered a leading manufacturer of burger patties in Canada, making customized premium burgers for clients including retail chains, club stores, quick-service and casual dining restaurants and foodservice distributors.

Belmont, which also supplies individually-portioned steaks, short ribs and other beef products for various customers, is now introducing its product lines into U.S. retail markets, Premium noted in Thursday’s release.

In business in Toronto since 1966, Belmont in 2013 was the subject of a recall and federal food safety investigation after 11 people were found to be sickened by E. coli O157:H7, “reported to be related” to consuming Compliments brand Super 8 beef burgers produced at the plant.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency wrapped that investigation in November 2013, having found “no food safety concerns… during (its) investigation at either Belmont Meats or their meat suppliers that could identify potential sources of the contamination.”

Belmont, the agency said at the time, is “currently working to address other administrative, non-food safety related issues of non-compliance within accepted timelines.”

When the company marked its 50th anniversary in May this year, it made note of its “commitment to food safety” noting each phase of production is “carefully monitored and protected using advanced safety technology, ensuring customers and their brands receive the highest degree of safety at every step.”

Belmont at the time said it “also insists its partners and suppliers exceed its robust food safety approvals, remain current in their own safety initiatives and comply with all regulatory certifications.”

Premium, formerly known as Fletcher’s Fine Foods, has continued on a steady path of expansion by acquisition, most recently buying the separate Fletcher’s U.S. business in August and Montreal-based C+C Packing in March. — AGCanada.com Network

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