Maple Leaf Foods to open new London plant, while 3 others to close

Maple Leaf Foods announced plans to build a $660-million fresh poultry facility south of the 401 in London with doors set to open in 2021.

The company is consolidating its fresh poultry processing operations in London

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was among a number of politicians from all stripes who welcomed a new $660 million Maple Leaf poultry processing plant in London, as the company consolidates operations from three other plants located in Toronto, Brampton and St. Marys. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

Maple Leaf Foods has announced plans to build a $660-million fresh poultry facility south of Hwy. 401 in London, with doors set to open in 2021.

"This leading-edge facility will represent the largest single site investment ever in the Canadian food industry history," said Maple Leaf Foods President and CEO Michael McCain on Tuesday.

Maple Leaf Foods CEO Michael McCain says the London facility will be state of the art and fully sustainable. 0:43

The new 640,00 square-foot facility will employ 1,450 people, but comes with job losses in three other Ontario centres.

Maple Leaf processing plants in Toronto, Brampton and Perth South, near the community of St. Marys, will close as the company consolidates operations. 

"This 640,000 square foot facility will be the most efficient and technologically advanced of its kind anywhere in the world," he said.  

McCain said that, on top of the $660 million investment, Maple Leaf has also pledged to spend another $5 million to accelerate adoption of advanced manufacturing technology and reduce the company's environmental footprint by 50 per cent. 

"Our goal is to make this a zero-waste to landfill facility," he said. 

Ford praises Liberals

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was among a number of dignitaries who were on hand to announce the operation that's been in the works for three years.

Premier Doug Ford describes his connection to Maple Leaf Foods at plant opening. 1:12

Ford told the crowd he was doing away with his notes and would ad lib his speech, in which he said the new London Maple Leaf plant would receive $34.5 million from the province and $28 million from Ottawa. 

Remember, Doug Ford is telling the Liberals, good job.- Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario

Ford also took the rare opportunity to congratulate his federal counterparts, who had been working on bringing Maple Leaf Foods to London for years, along with city officials and the former Liberal government of Ontario. 

"Good job," he said. "Remember, Doug Ford is telling the Liberals, good job." 

Ford also pledged to lower electricity rates by 12 per cent and remove the number of regulations on businesses in Ontario by 25 per cent. 

"We have to be competitive," he said. "Regulations kill companies."