Central Alberta meat processors get funding

Provincial and federal governments team up to provide $2 million in grants

The Alberta and federal governments have carved off $2 million to help Central Alberta meat processors boost their businesses.

A total of $2 million in grants can be shared among food processors to upgrade equipment, expand capacity and improve efficiency.

“Alberta’s food processing sector is a significant pillar of our agriculture industry and a major employer across the province,” says Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier in a statement on Tuesday. “Supporting companies as they improve their operations helps contribute to their long-term success, strengthens the agriculture sector as a whole and further diversifies Alberta’s economy.”

Among the companies to share in the funding through the Growing Forward 2 program are OlymelSEC/LP, Innisfail’s SunGold Specialty Meats Ltd., Innisfail’s new Leaf Essentials, Trochu Meat Processors Ltd., owned by Sunterra Meats Ltd.; and Camrose’s Tiras Dairies Ltd.

Sunterra Meats president Ray Price said they hope to get about $200,000 through the grants, which will go towards a $1.4-million upgrade.

“We want to expand our process so we can access markets in China and Europe,” said Price. “We’re putting in some equipment our customers requested.”

The Canadian-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is expected to kick in this fall and Price anticipates more sales to Europe.

Adding the equipment will increase the scope of the company’s exports, which are focused on the U.S., Japan and Mexico currently.

“We’ve been doing a little bit into China but our Chinese customers wanted a different specification that required this equipment to go in,” he said, adding the equipment will also accommodate European requests.

The Trochu operation, which employs 135 people, processes about 600 to 700 hogs per day. Price hopes to increase production by around 20 per cent.

By the time the Growing Forward program ends next March about $406 million will have been invested in Alberta’s agriculture sector.

Food and beverage processing is the largest manufacturing employer in Alberta, generating $14.6 billion in sales last year.

•Olymel is a Quebec-based company that employs 1,400 at its Red Deer pork processing plant. It plans to improve production with an advanced meat recovery system.

•SunGold operates a federally inspected, full-service meat processing plant that specializes in processing lamb and goat. Its products are aimed at niche-oriented domestic and international markets. It plans to purchase new cooling equipment and boost production.

•New Leaf Essentials owns and operates facilities that clean, sort and process pulses. It intends to buy equipment for a new pulse milling and fractioning facility and enhance its dry and wet processing capacity.

•Tiras Dairies produces Mediterranean-style cheeses and received $250,000 to upgrade and improve its production facility.

pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

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