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Sask Pork Explores Options for Maintaining Provincial Pork Processing Capacity

by 5m Editor
6 November 2006, at 5:20pm

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 2295. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

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Farm-Scape, Episode 2295

The Saskatchewan Pork Development Board is evaluating its options in the wake of the pending closure of the province's primary hog slaughtering plant.

Last month, as part of a major restructuring plan, Maple Leaf Foods canceled plans to upgrade its Mitchell's Gourmet Foods hog slaughtering plant in Saskatoon and announced it will close the facility.

Sask Pork general manager Neil Ketilson notes, in 2004 prior to Maple Leaf's decision to replace the aging Mitchell's plant, Sask Pork had conducted a comprehensive study of the potential for pork processing in the province and created a business plan based on producer involvement in partnership with a major player that would be capable of marketing the product after the fact.

When Maple Leaf announced the plan in '05 to build a new one, those plans were put on hold and we just relaxed because we were quite satisfied with having a plant and a significant firm in town.

Since that and what we're doing right now is going back to that former plan and reviewing the numbers if you will. As well we've retained the services of Meyers Norris Penny to look at the business plan and there's a number of other options out there.

In terms of primary production it's absolutely critical that we remember that we have a great deal of opportunities in this province, economic advantages, competitive advantages not shared by other parts of the world.

The advantages that were there prior to the announcement of Maple Leaf still exist and so we think there's a great deal of potential in this province.

Ketilson notes possible producer options include purchasing the existing Mitchell's facility, building a new slaughter and processing facility, partnering with Maple on a new facility or attracting a new player into Saskatchewan's meat processing industry.

He says options will be explored over the winter and, within five to six months, the agency should have some clearer direction in terms of what possibilities might exist.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor