Maple Leaf Foods to expand Winnipeg meat plant

Maple Leaf Foods will spend $85 million and create hundreds of jobs to expand one of its meat processing plants in Winnipeg.

Facility will be Canada's largest bacon processing plant, says company

Maple Leaf Foods will spend $85 million and create hundreds of jobs to expand one of its meat processing plants in Winnipeg.

The company announced on Wednesday that it will expand its Lagimodiere Boulevard facility by 70,000 square feet, making it the largest bacon processing plant in Canada.

The Maple Leaf plant in Lagimodiere Boulevard will be expanded by 70,000 square feet, while the company's Panet Road facility will be closed by 2014. ((CBC))

"Our decision to establish a centre of excellence in Winnipeg for bacon and value-added ham products speaks to our confidence in Manitoba and its pork industry," Scott McCain, president and chief operating officer of Maple Leaf's agribusiness group, stated in a release.

"With this latest expansion, Maple Leaf Foods will have invested more than $100 million in the Lagimodiere facility since 2008."

The new plant will consolidate all of Maple Leaf's bacon processing capacity from across the country.

The plant expansion will include extensive renovations inside the facility, the construction of an onsite wastewater treatment system, and the installation of new smokehouses, coolers, slicers and other equipment.

About 345 to 350 jobs will be created in Winnipeg as a result of the expansion.

Panet Road plant to close

At the same time, Maple Leaf says it will close its Panet Road plant, which produces Hot Rods processed meat sticks, by the end of 2014. Twenty-seven jobs will be cut there as a result.

Wednesday's announcement is part of a multimillion-dollar overhaul at Maple Leaf, which is cutting 1,550 jobs, closing plants and streamlining distribution across the country.

In addition to the Panet Road plant closure, Maple Leaf will also shut down processing plants in Kitchener, Hamilton and Toronto in Ontario; in North Battleford, Sask.; and Moncton, N.B.

Four distribution centres will also be closed in New Brunswick, Ontario and British Columbia.

However, the company says it will build a new prepared meats plant in Hamilton, Ont., and invest in plants in Saskatoon and Brampton, Ont.

The Toronto-based food processing company said the nationwide changes are part of a three-year $560-million restructuring plan expected to boost competitiveness and profitability.