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Maple Leaf Upgrades to Meet International Pork Demand

13 February 2013
Alberta Pork

CANADA - Maple Leaf Foods is upgrading its pork facility in Lethbridge to keep up with the growing international demand for Canadian pork. The company is partnering with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) to create a more efficient processing environment. Pork producers also stand to gain, as the plant is already a large buyer of pork in the Lethbridge area.

The current Lethbridge plant processes over 1,300 hogs per day, most of which are bound for Japan and other international markets. This facility and equipment upgrade allows Maple Leaf to increase that number to 1,500. The equipment upgrades include a new carcass cooler and modifications to the processing environment that will bring it in line with the current receiving and slaughtering capacity.

Severin Habetler, Plant Manager for Maple Leaf Foods, said, "We already have the capacity to slaughter 1,500 hogs a day, but our cooling capacity size and cut floor lay out can’t handle that volume. Since we already know there is demand, it makes sense for us to upgrade the facility to process them."

Although 200 hogs a day may seem like a small increase, this would represent an additional demand of at least 45,000 hogs a year. The stable demand for pork helps local producers and increases the sustainability of the pork industry during the current market difficulties.

Darcy Fitzgerald, Executive Director of Alberta Pork, said, "We're always excited to see an increase in processing capacity because it increases the demand for Alberta pigs. Maple Leaf’s Lethbridge plant is strategically important, as it sells Canadian pork into the Japanese and other international markets where the value of our high-quality pork is known."

Rory McAlpine, Vice President, Government and Industry Relations at Maple Leaf, said, "Every package of pork that leaves the Lethbridge plant and goes abroad helps to build up Canadian pork as a premium brand. Maple Leaf is proud to be one of the companies adding value to the Canadian brand on the international stage."

Gordon Cove, ALMA’s CEO and president, said, "The Maple Leaf facility in Lethbridge is already a supplier of high-quality Alberta pork. This upgrade to the processing environment represents an investment of over $2.5 million by Maple Leaf and reinforces their commitment to their business in Alberta and to Alberta pork."

ThePigSite News Desk

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