Food processing company Maple Leaf Foods has announced the construction of a state-of-the-art fresh pork processing plant in Saskatchewan.


"This investment in Saskatchewan reinforces our strategy of establishing a network of world-class meat processing operations to meet growing consumer demand domestically and around the world for premium quality innovative pork products that are made in Canada," said Michael McCain, President and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods.


Maple Leaf will construct a $110m (US$89m) primary pork processing facility on 35 acres in the Marquis Industrial area in Saskatoon and invest up to $50m in its value-added pork processing operations in the Province. The new plant will replace the 65 year-old Mitchell's plant in Saskatoon, which Maple Leaf purchased through the acquisition of Schneider Foods. The plant currently processes 17,000 hogs per week and is operating at full capacity. It is highly integrated into the Schneider Foods procurement and production chain, with over two-thirds of its production supporting other value-added meat operations, and plays an important role in supporting the Saskatchewan pork industry.


"Maple Leaf, through its Mitchell's Foods subsidiary, has a long and proud history in our province," Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert said. "The company is building on that legacy with this major and long-term investment in one of our key economic sectors. Through its continued commitment to Saskatchewan, Maple Leaf is helping drive major growth and jobs in our hog production and pork processing industries."


The new plant will process 20,000 hogs per week on a single shift basis with the capacity to expand to 40,000 hogs per week on a double-shift operation. This new state-of-the-art facility will meet rigorous quality and product specifications for value-added fresh pork and specialty products. It will complement the company's higher throughput pork plant in Brandon, which will continue to focus on value-added processing for domestic and global markets. Maple Leaf continues to support a double shift expansion at its Brandon plant based on international market growth for high quality pork.


"Major investments like this do not occur every day, and with the future expansion that is to come with Maple Leaf Foods, it means a positive atmosphere for all, not only in Saskatoon, but surrounding communities as well," said Saskatoon Mayor Donald Atchison.


Maple Leaf, the Province and the City of Saskatoon are proceeding to execute a definitive agreement. Design and engineering work is underway, and construction of the hog slaughter and cutting plant is expected to commence by mid-late 2006, with the hog slaughter operation commissioned approximately 18 to 24 months later.


This investment will support up to 1,400 existing jobs throughout Maple Leaf's primary and value-added pork processing operations in Saskatoon, and is expected to create up to 300 to 350 new jobs in a double shift hog slaughter and cutting plant. It will also generate new jobs in the Company's value-added pork operations, and through driving growth in the Province's feed, hog production and related service industries.