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Breslau pork processor recognized for its exports


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Liz Bevan
Liz Bevanhttps://observerxtra.com
Liz Bevan is a reporter and photographer for The Observer. She has written for community newspapers in western Canada and has been published in national newspapers and magazines.

Continued growth at Conestoga Meat Packers has seen the Breslau-based venture play an expanding role in the pork market. Now, its efforts as an exporter has garnered it a provincial award.

On Wednesday morning, the company received a 2016 Ontario Food Exporter Award from the provincial government.

The award is presented to Ontario exporters that have shown significant growth in exports and successful expansion into new markets, raising Ontario’s profile as a trusted food provider. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs also looks at growth in export-related employment, quality of marketing strategy and their level of success in the last two years.

Company president Arnold Drung says Conestoga Meat Packers fits the criteria.

“When the Progressive Pork Producers Cooperative bought the business in 2001, we shipped about 20,000 kilograms of product in that first year,” he said. “Now, we are shipping that every hour of every day we are in production.”

Through marketing and production of high quality goods, Drung says they have been expanding their international reach.

“Canada is a well-known pork exporter around the world and we have been able to capitalize on that with our products, growing the business over time,” he said. “It is part of what you need to do to flourish.”

He says the company couldn’t have accomplished that kind of growth and international reach without a hand from everyone around them, all the way to the nation’s capital.

“We get support from the community, from municipal government, from the provincial government, from the federal government. All those things are required for us to be able to export and do what we do,” said Drung.

The company also owes their success to their employees, fostering a welcoming and supportive environment for those who go to work at Conestoga Meat Packers every day.

“We pride ourselves in the way that we treat our employees. We have a set of business values in which we say that the people here are the foundation of our success and we truly try to live according to that,” shared Drung. “Any success that we have achieved is a result of the team effort and everyone’s contribution within the company.”

Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris, Kevin Harris of Super-Pufft Snacks Corp., Arnold Drung of Conestoga Meat Packers, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry Kathryn McGarry and Kitchener-Centre MPP Daiene Vernile were in Breslau on Wednesday morning for the presentation of the annual Ontario Food Exporter Award. [Liz Bevan / The Observer]

The award was presented by provincial officials at Conestoga Meat Packers’ Menno Street facility. Among those present was Cambridge MPP Kathryn McGarry, who highlighted some of Conestoga Meat Packers’ successes over  the last 15 years.

“(Pork producers) entered the business with the view of supplying the world with the same wholesome pork that their own families had enjoyed for generations,” she told the crowd gathered at the processing plant.

“With that vision in mind, this company entered the export market in 2002, limited at first to the United States. Those exports have now grown to the point where they are shipping 950 ocean containers of pork to more than 20 countries worldwide in 2015. That is a celebration.”

Conestoga Meat Packers wasn’t the only food processing business honoured this week. One of two other finalists, Agrocorp Exports Ltd. specializes in beans, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa and peas, among others. More than 86 per cent of its business is destined for export markets and they recently expanded to include European retailers at clients.

Super-Pufft Snacks Corp. was the second finalist for the Ontario Food Exporter Award. They manufacture popcorn, potato chips, extruded snacks and canister chips. They export to over 30 countries across five continents.

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