(PRNewswire) Maple Leaf Foods today announced plans to build a $660 million value-added fresh poultry facility in London, Ontario. The new 640,000 square feet facility is expected to be one of the most technologically advanced poultry-processing plants in the world, with leading-edge food safety, environmental and animal welfare processes and technologies.
Funding for the project includes a capital investment of approximately $605.5 million from Maple Leaf Foods, $34.5 million from the Government of Ontario, and a $20 million investment from the Government of Canada under the Strategic Innovation Fund. In addition, the company is receiving a $8 million loan from the AgriInnovate Fund.
As part of the federal funding agreement, Maple Leaf will invest a further $5 million over the next five years on projects that accelerate adoption of advanced manufacturing and production technologies and support the company's goal to reduce its environmental footprint by 50 percent by 2025.
"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," said Michael H. McCain, President and CEO. The project is expected to deliver annualized benefits of $105 million to the company's adjusted EBITDA on a run-rate basis within 12 months of completing start-up, and by the end of 2023.
"Canada's agri-food industry is a key driver of innovation and well-paying jobs across the country. Our government is proud to invest in Maple Leaf Foods, helping to position Canada as a globally competitive player in the food processing sector," said The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. "This is the largest investment in the history of Ontario's agriculture sector, it demonstrates industry confidence in our growing economy, and it's another example of how we're making Ontario open for business," said The Honourable Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario.
Chicken is the most consumed and fastest growing meat protein in Canada. There is particularly high demand for raised without antibiotics and halal chicken products, where Maple Leaf has the leading national brands. This scale facility will address constraints in Maple Leaf's current Ontario network, enhance operating efficiencies, and expand its value-added product mix and capacity to meet growing consumer demand.
Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2019, with start-up planned to commence in the second quarter of 2021. The new plant will initially support over 1,450 direct full and part-time jobs. The facility is expected to create a further 1,400 indirect jobs in the supplies and services sector and generate an estimated $1.2 billion of annual economic activity once it is fully operational.
Production from the company's three sub-scale and aging plants in Ontario will eventually be consolidated into the new facility. Each of these plants is 50 to 60 years old, with location, footprint and infrastructure constraints.