Hilton Food Group is setting up its first manufacturing plant in Canada after inking a “long-term” protein supply deal with grocery retailer Walmart.

The London-listed and predominately private-label business said it plans to open the facility in eastern Canada through a newly-created subsidiary, Hilton Foods Canada. The factory is expected to start production in 2026 and will supply Walmart with beef, lamb, pork and seafood, with value-added products earmarked further down the line.

UK-based Hilton Food supplies its domestic market, select countries in continental Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Hilton Food said in a statement: “This partnership represents a significant step forward for both Walmart and Hilton Food in fulfilling increasing consumer demand across Canada for high-quality, good-value and increasingly sustainable protein products.

“Through the partnership, Hilton Food will apply its strong ESG credentials underpinned by its sustainable protein plan to the North American market.”

Hilton Food supplies the US market with seafood following the company’s acquisition of Dutch salmon processor Foppen in 2021.

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Foppen, the trading name of the Dutch Seafood Company, serves customers in the US with value-added branded and own-label smoked salmon products. Hilton Food, however, does not have a manufacturing presence in the US.

CEO Steve Murrells said: “This [Walmart] agreement further extends our global footprint and will be our first manufacturing facility in North America. Hilton Food and Walmart share the same high standards of sustainability and we are looking forward to providing Walmart with the service and range of quality products for which Hilton Food is known.”

The Canada facility will be financed by the new subsidiary, with the investment in the plant and equipment funded through debt. The spending programme will begin in 2024 and continue through 2025.

Sam Wankowski, Walmart Canada’s chief merchandising officer, said the agreement with Hilton Food will provide meat and seafood to consumers at “low prices” and with sustainable packaging.

“With our customers top of mind, we’re sparking change in the way Walmart Canada sources proteins in Canada. Our new agreement with Hilton Food – their very first in Canada – is a win for our customers,” Wankowski added.

Hilton Food last week said it was overcoming challenges in seafood marked by “hyperinflation” as the company issued a trading update for the 28 weeks to 6 July.

“The much talked about seafood recovery is absolutely on track,” Murrells told Just Food last week as adjusted operating profit rose 1.4% to £41.8m ($52.1m), based on group revenue of £2.1bn, a price-driven increase of 5.2%.

Adjusted profit before tax, however, fell 22.2% to £26.8m.

Murrells revealed Hilton Food was also consolidating its operations in meat alternatives.

Its Dutch facility in the city of Oss will close and production of meat-free sausages, chicken and burgers will shift to the company’s remaining site in the country based at Oosterhout.