SPI Reports Producers Adjusting to Transition from Saskatoon to Alternate Processing Plants

CANADA - The SPI Marketing Group reports, despite some initial challenges, the transition from delivering hogs to Mitchell's in Saskatoon to other plants in Canada and the U.S. has been reasonably smooth, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 1 August 2007
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At the end of May Maple Leaf closed its Saskatoon hog slaughtering plant as part of its plan to concentrate primary pork processing in Brandon.

SPI Marketing Group general manager Don Hrapchak says the shift to delivering to alternate plants has proved to be a challenge but things seem to be going better now.

Don Hrapchak-SPI Marketing Group

Many of the producers who shipped hogs into Saskatoon never required assembly of their animals because all their animals were destined to the Saskatoon plant.

That has all changed and producers are now being faced with, in some occasions, of having to ship their hogs into an assembly yard.

That, again, growing pains as producers learn that timing is of great importance, accuracy in numbers of great importance especially when you're trying to coordinate movement of hogs to meat packing plants in the United States or to Red Deer or Brandon.

When you're assembling hogs for shipment into let's say far away meat packing plants, it's extremely important that numbers of animals that are booked be adhered to.

We expect producers to be at the assembly yard within a 15 minute point in time so that we can have the animals loaded onto the semi trailers and off to the various markets.

So all of this is a learning process of everybody concerned, the assembly yard, the producers and the truckers.

So, again, as time passes we're getting better at what we're doing and things are progressing satisfactorily.

Hrapchak notes construction at Brandon, as Maple Leaf prepares to double shift that plant, has created some congestion during unloading and some plant breakdowns in Red Deer forced the diversion of some hogs to markets in the U.S.

However, he says, delivery patterns are beginning to return to normal.

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