Canada’s pork industry has experienced enormous stressors for over 2 years, but a new development in Manitoba – Canada’s third largest pig production province – is giving the national industry hope.
This new, positive development is an expansion of the Winkler Meats processing plant in south-central Manitoba, costing $ 52.8 million CAD (€ 35.8 million). The expansion will double the number of full-time jobs at the plant to 155.
The joint venture involves Winkler Meats and Johnsonville, a US-based pork company known for its sausage products. The Canadian federal and provincial governments are also supporting the project, providing nearly $ 2.4 million CAD in funding over 2 years, as well as $ 7.8 million in provincial loan financing and tax rebates.
Beyond the jobs and the economic stimulus the Winkler plant expansion will provide, it will also boosts Canadian food security and protects pork export capacity.
That is, more pigs being processed in Canada is a plus should a foreign animal disease such as African Swine Fever hit the US, in terms of feeding Canadians and keeping exports steady. However, most Canadian pigs are still exported live across the US border for processing.
The Winkler announcement comes just after the Manitoba Pork Council released a new report showing that Manitoba’s 566 hog farms have an enormous positive impact on the provincial economy. The report notes Manitoba’s pork industry contributes about 3.5% to the province’s gross domestic product and employs 22,000 people, over half the agri-food manufacturing jobs in Manitoba.
Pig Progress recently reported that major Canadian integrator Olymel will close 6 sow production units across 2 Prairie provinces, shrinking its western sow herd by almost a third. This follows the recent closure of a large Olymel pig processing plant in Quebec.
Manitoba-based HyLife Foods also closed a pork processing plant in Minnesota earlier this year and laid off a small number of staff in June. (US-based Smithfield Foods is also set to close about 35 sow farms in Missouri in a month or so.)
Canada’s pig producers have also suffered recent stressors in the form of a labour strike at the ports of Vancouver (affecting exports to Asia) and the UK being admitted to the Comprehensive & Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.