Canadian pork processing group HyLife has announced plans to modernise and expand its production facilities in Manitoba to help meet increasing demand for products from Japan and China.

HyLife said the CAD125m (US$93m) project, at its flagship pork processing facility in Neepawa in southern Canada, will start “as early as 2017”.

“In order to meet growing demand and address international competitive pressure, the time has come to reinvest back into HyLife’s integrated system,” the group said in a statement. “HyLife envisions expanding the Neepawa plant by moving to a full double shift and adopting innovative technologies to improve yields and processes and increase shelf life. HyLife also plans to construct new finishing barns and a feed mill. This will bring up to 165 new jobs to the communities HyLife operates in and will increase its total employee base to approximately 2,000.”

HyLife president Claude Vielfaure said: “HyLife’s investment into growing our Japanese and Chinese markets has been very rewarding and is sending the signal that we can do more. 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.”

According to HyLife, the group has become “Canada’s number fresh chilled pork exporter to Japan, returning CAD200m worth of sales from the Japanese market annually”. The group said it recently opened a restaurant “in the trendy Daikanyama district of Tokyo to further highlight the quality and taste profile that HyLife pork delivers”.

Vielfaure added: “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. The result has been a solid and growing base of Japanese consumers seeking to buy HyLife’s premium fresh chilled pork products, which we grow and process right here in Manitoba.”

HyLife said its “steady presence” in China has led to the group “grossing CAD80m in sales since breaking into the market in 2008”. In September, HyLife announced a contract with the Chinese e-commerce platform,

In 2013, Japan’s Itochu said it was eyeing a stronger foothold in China after agreeing to take a 33% stake in HyLife.