Canadian packaged meats company Maple Leaf Foods has plans to build a poultry facility in London, Ontario, with an investment of C$660m ($497m).

Maple Leaf’s 640,000ft² facility will be equipped with advanced technology and processes to ensure food safety, environmental sustainability and animal welfare.

Maple Leaf Foods president and CEO Michael McCain said: “This world-class facility will enable Maple Leaf to meet the steadily growing consumer demand for premium, value-added poultry products and strengthen Canada’s food system.”

For this project, Maple Leaf Foods will invest approximately C$605.5m ($456.8m). The Government of Ontario will fund C$34.5m ($26.3m), while the Government of Canada under the Strategic Innovation Fund will provide C$20m ($15m).

The facility will help the company to strengthen its competitiveness in the poultry sector. Additionally, the Canadian company will receive a loan of C$8m ($6m) from the AgriInnovate Fund.

“This world-class facility will enable Maple Leaf to meet the steadily growing consumer demand.”

Construction works at the site are expected to begin next year, and operations will commence in the second quarter of 2021.

During the construction phase, the project is expected to create approximately 300 jobs. Almost 85% of the project expenditures will support domestic construction and installation contractors.

Upon completion, the poultry facility is expected to offer more than 1,450 direct full and part-time jobs, with the potential for additional jobs as production volumes increase over time.

Maple Leaf noted that it will work with local agencies to hire and train people.

The company further added that it is planning to close its three sub-scale and ageing plants in Ontario.  This comprises the plant in St Marys, which is expected to close by late 2021, as well as the facilities in Toronto and Brampton that are expected to close by mid-late 2022.

The operations at these three facilities will later be consolidated into the new facility.