Maple Leaf Foods to build new London plant, shutter 3 others in Ontario

LONDON, Ont. — Maple Leaf Foods Inc. is building a $660-million fresh-poultry facility in London, Ont., that will enhance its ability to process higher-margin products by closing three aging plants in the province.

The protein company will invest an initial $605.5 million into the plant that will serve Eastern Canada and an additional $5 million into related projects over the next five years, while $34.5 million will come from the Ontario government and an additional $28 million from the Canadian government.

It will lead to a net reduction of about 300 jobs.

The new facility will span nearly 60,000 square metres and employ 1,450 full- and part-time workers once operations begin, which is expected in the second quarter of 2021. Construction will begin this spring.

“It will solidify and strengthen the poultry industry in Canada for the next many, many decades,” Maple Leaf CEO Michael McCain said in a conference call after markets closed Monday.

Chicken is the most consumed and fastest growing meat protein in Canada.

McCain said the plant is the largest single-site investment ever made in the Canadian food sector. Production from three of Maple Leaf’s other plants will eventually be consolidated into the new facility, the company said.

Its St. Marys plant is expected to close by late 2021 and its Toronto and Brampton facilities will close by in mid- to late-2022.

“These plants have served us well but they’re now 50 to 60 years old and severely growth constrained because of location, footprint or infrastructure and nearing the end of their productive capacity,” McCain told analysts.

McCain said he “deeply” regrets the impact on existing employees, but the plant will allow it to earn and extra $105 million in adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) annually by delivering higher margin valued-added air-chilled, tray-packed boneless and ground poultry. It will also help to expand its retail brand and supply fresh chicken to two other facilities that make cooked and sliced meat.

The new plant, to be located near Highway 401, will deliver more than 30 per cent cost savings from lower labour, overhead and distribution and a one-third increase in capacity that can expand to meet growing demand.

“This is going to be, to the very best of our knowledge, the single most technologically advanced facility of its kind in the world.”

The company plans to provide affected employees with job opportunities at the new facility or other plants it operates, he said, as well as services to help them eventually find new employment.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and federal ministers praised the project.

“This innovative new plant will modernize processing, and help make Ontario’s chicken farmers more competitive,” said Ford.

Federal Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains said the project will “keep Canada competitive in the global market and create new middle class jobs in Ontario.”

“Canada’s agri-food industry is a key driver of innovation and well-paying jobs across the country,” added Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay.

London is a significant food and beverage processing hub, with more than 60 companies employing more than 7,000 people at businesses including Labatt, McCormick, Dr. Oetker and Nestle.

Established in 1991, Maple Leaf Foods employs more than 11,000 people across Canada and exports to more than 20 global markets.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced more than 1,500 active cases in Alberta Monday afternoon and five additional deaths. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
New COVID rules coming

Central zone active cases up by 100 in last 24 hours

(Black Press file photo.)
Rocky police charge three suspects after pellet gun shootings

Three incidents results in several injuries

Red Deer city council gave final approval to a mask bylaw that will go into effect on Nov. 30. (Black Press file photo).
Red Deer city council approves mask bylaw that takes effect on Nov. 30

It could be ‘superceded’ by a provincial mask bylaw, if one is announced Tuesday

Lynn Van Laar, chair of this year’s Christmas Wish Breakfast, said the event was planned outdoors to minimize the risk of COVID. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
Outdoor Christmas Wish Breakfast helps central Alberta families this holiday season

The coronavirus pandemic isn’t going to stop children from having a merry… Continue reading

Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) knocks a pass away from Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 23, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Goff throws for 376 yards, 3 TDs in Rams’ 27-24 win vs Bucs

Goff throws for 376 yards, 3 TDs in Rams’ 27-24 win vs Bucs

New York Red Bulls midfielder Dru Yearwood, left, fights for the ball against Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio during an MLS soccer match in Harrison, N.J., on November 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
Experienced Toronto FC ready to take on upstart Nashville SC in playoff action

Experienced Toronto FC ready to take on upstart Nashville SC in playoff action

Canada's head coach Dave Lowry during practice at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland, on Wednesday, December 30, 2015. The Winnipeg Jets have hired Lowry as an assistant coach. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Former WHL head coach Dave Lowry joins Paul Maurice’s staff in Winnipeg

Former WHL head coach Dave Lowry joins Paul Maurice’s staff in Winnipeg

Felix Auger-Aliassime, of Canada, returns a shot to Dominic Thiem, of Austria, during the fourth round of the US Open tennis championships in New York on September 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Seth Wenig
A steady if unspectacular season comes to a close for Canada’s Auger-Aliassime

A steady if unspectacular season comes to a close for Canada’s Auger-Aliassime

Sacramento Kings' Alex Len (25) collects a rebound against Brooklyn Nets' Jarrett Allen (31) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Aug. 7, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ashley Landis
Raptors continue to shore up frontcourt, signing Alex Len to one-year deal

Raptors continue to shore up frontcourt, signing Alex Len to one-year deal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Freeland says Liberals will deliver economic, fiscal update on Nov. 30

Freeland says Liberals will deliver economic, fiscal update on Nov. 30

Canadian Joint Operations Commander Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau speaks during a news conference on the recent Canadian Forces helicopter crash, Tuesday, May 19, 2020 in Ottawa. The Canadian Armed Forces is preparing to formally apologize to victims of sexual misconduct. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canadian Armed Forces to formally apologize to victims for sexual misconduct

Canadian Armed Forces to formally apologize to victims for sexual misconduct

Alberta Liberal Party David Khan at a campaign stop in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 11, 2019. The Alberta Liberal Party says its leader, David Khan, is stepping down. A news release from the party on Sunday evening says Khan is accepting a new job in law. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta Liberal Party says leader, David Khan, stepping down to accept new job in law

Alberta Liberal Party says leader, David Khan, stepping down to accept new job in law

Most Read