The Christmas celebration will be extra merry at Conestoga Meat Packers in Breslau following a $2.3-million investment from the federal government. The money will help the company open new markets for Ontario pork.
The investment, announced this week by Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht, comes from Canada’s Economic Action Plan’s $50-million Slaughter Improvement Program.
The goal is to help the beleaguered pork industry reduce costs, increasing revenues and improving operations of meat packing and processing operations in Canada.
This investment will help Conestoga Meat Packers renovate its facility, allowing it to process value-added products, capture new markets and generate new revenue, said company president Arnold Drung.
“We have just recently undergone a significant expansion, so this funding came at the right time and will be a partial funding for that project.”
Agri-Food Canada and the government are hoping that this investment will further boost productivity, job creation and the bottom line of local producers.
“This loan enables the processors here in the area to process more of the hogs that are grown here. It’s a win for the company obviously in terms of expansion – being more efficient and hiring more employees” said Albrecht.
“If packers are profitable and competitive, our farmers will benefit through stronger markets, and our economy will benefit through new jobs.”
Owned by 150 hog farmers, all located in southwestern Ontario, Conestoga Meat Packers has increased its capacity to 14,000 from 3,000 head per week in the past eight years, resulting in an increase in a tenfold increase in employment to 350 staff. And it doesn’t look as though they will be slowing down any time soon.
“We are looking to hire between 20 and 30 staff in the new year,” said Drung.
And this expansion comes at a time when it is very much needed, noted Albrecht.
“Local hog producers have struggled over the past few years – especially since the incorrectly labeled ‘swine flu.’ To have to deal with a hit to their market like that, when they were already going through a difficult time is like hitting someone when they’re down. I think anything we can do to help is a good thing.”
He was also quick to note that local farmers are not asking for handouts from the government, simply a chance to remain competitive in a difficult market.
“All they want is the opportunity to compete on an equal playing field. If we can provide the processing facilities locally, then we will help to cut down on trucking costs and other hidden affiliated costs.”