Maple Leaf Foods has unveiled plans to develop a new poultry processing plant in London, Ontario, Canada.

With an investment of C$660m ($498m), the project will begin construction in 2019 and commence operations in Q2 2021.

Once in operation, the poultry plant will create approximately 1,450 direct full and part-time jobs, as well as an additional 1,400 indirect jobs in the supplies and services sector. It is expected to contribute up to C$1.2bn ($904m) a year to the regional economy.

The plant will increase the company’s current chicken processing capacity in Ontario by 33% to help meet the growing demand for high-quality poultry products in Canada. It will also increase the demand for locally raised chickens from Ontario’s farmers and contribute to the growth of Canada’s chicken industry.

Location of Maple Leaf’s London poultry facility

Maple Leaf’s fresh poultry processing facility will be located on a 100-acre industrial site in London, approximately 200km away from Toronto.

The site lies in close proximity to poultry farms and contract growers, and is situated near the Ontario Highway 401.

Maple Leaf’s chicken processing facility details

The state-of-the-art poultry plant will have a built-up area of 640,000ft² and will be equipped with advanced manufacturing and production technologies to produce high-quality, air-chilled, tray-packed, boneless and ground chicken products.

The plant will be installed with stunning, air-chilling, slicing and deboning machinery. It will also incorporate food and workplace safety practices and environmental and animal care technologies improve operational efficiency while reducing costs.

The facility will replace Maple Leaf’s three existing sub-scale and ageing plants in St. Marys, Toronto and Brampton. Operations at the St. Marys plant will be continued through 2021, while those in Toronto and Brampton will be continued until 2022.

Financing

Maple Leaf’s capital investment in the new chicken processing plant will be one of the biggest investments made in Ontario’s agriculture industry.

Additional start-up and adjustment costs will increase the total project cost to C$744m ($560.5m). The company will invest C$605.5m ($455.7) in the facility through a combination of cash flow from operational outcomes and debt.

“The plant will be installed with stunning, air-chilling, slicing and deboning machinery.”

The Government of Canada will provide a loan of C$20m ($15m) through the Strategic Innovation Fund and C$8m ($6m) through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership’s AgriInnovate Fund to support the new poultry facility. The Government of Ontario will also offer a C$34.5m ($26m) loan for the project over the next five years.

The project is anticipated to deliver C$105m ($79.1m) to Maple Leaf on a run-rate basis in its first year of operation by the end of 2023.

Maple Leaf also plans to invest C$5m ($3.7m) in meat processing activities and advanced manufacturing technologies to further strengthen Canada’s agri-food sector.

Contractors involved

Hixson Architecture & Engineering was selected to lead the design and engineering of the new chicken processing plant in collaboration with WalterFedy, which is responsible to provide architecture and engineering services.

Marketing commentary on Maple Leaf Foods

Founded in 1991, Maple Leaf is involved in the production of premium, innovative poultry products. Headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Maple Leaf operates facilities across Canada with an employee base of approximately 11,500. The company exports its packaged meat products to 20 markets worldwide.

Maple Leaf’s brands include Maple Leaf®, Mina®, Maple Leaf Prime®, Schneiders®, Maple Leaf Natural Selections®, Country Naturals®, Lightlife™, SWIFT® and Field Roast Grain Meat Co. ™.