Heidelberg Foods is on their way to nearly doubling the size of their processing plant in St. Jacobs.
The fine food producer, owned by Markham’s Jevons Capital Group, has broken ground on a construction project that will add 12,000 square feet to their processing plant. As well as adding square footage, the company will also be taking on an estimated 10 more employees, adding to the group of 30 workers already employed at the plant.
Ed Casey, managing director of operations at Jevons, says increased market demand prompted the plan to nearly double the food processing facility and add to the employee base.
“It is a specialty product,” he said of Heidelberg Foods’ sausage, pepperoni, ham, bacon and salami products. “Everybody else seems to be getting away from the high-end meats and going to what I will call cheap and cheerful. We have stuck with the original concept of a very high-quality product. There seems to be a lot of demand for that.”
The expansion will separate the ready-to-eat product processing from the raw food, streamlining production and allowing for a greater output at the St. Jacobs plant.
“Food safety is an absolute fundamental concern,” said Casey. “You can spend a lot of time and effort cleaning and swabbing things and disinfecting them, or you can do it as part of the process, and in this case, that means a physical separation between the raw and ready-to-eat. This is to avoid cross-contamination. Instead of having a lot of people spending a lot of time cleaning up, we are going to separate the two processes and spend a lot more time producing product, which is a very good thing.”
Spending more time producing allows the company to look into taking on more products, while still maintaining current levels of production.
“[It will let us] look at other products that are in the same line – line extensions,” said Casey, adding that customers shouldn’t see a change in product and customer service during the $1.8-million expansion project. “We phased the construction so that we can keep up with our current customers throughout. We certainly hope that nobody notices anything.”
The project is scheduled, depending on weather, to be complete in the spring, and the company officially kicked off the construction with a ground-breaking ceremony on Nov. 25. Casey says the project would never have gotten to this point without the support of Woolwich Township and its residents.
“Woolwich is a perfect place,” he said. “St. Jacobs is a wonderful place to be doing this, right in the heart of Mennonite country with that old world style product and the quality that goes along with it. The township has been very helpful in getting us through the site plan and the approval stages of building permits and so on. They have been very supportive of what we are doing.”
The ground breaking was attended by all Heidelberg Foods workers, some of the construction workers and planners and suppliers.
“It went really well. It was a beautiful day for it,” said Casey.
Heidelberg Foods specializes in cured and fermented deli meats, selling under their own name and the Noah Martin brand. They stock the shelves at Metro, Sobeys and Loblaws.
For more information about Heidelberg Foods, visit their website at www.heidelbergfoods.com.