Canadian Pork Supplier Olymel to Close One Plant, Expand Labor At Another

The closure will eliminate 29 jobs, but an added second shift has already added 150.

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ST.-HYACINTHE, Quebec — Olymel management announced Sept. 15 the permanent closure of its Henryville, pork further processing plant in the Montérégie region.

This decision will take effect on Nov. 12 under the provisions of Quebec’s Labor Standards Act and will result in the abolition of 29 jobs. The employees affected by this decision, most of whom are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 501, were all informed this morning through a meeting and a personalized letter. All employees will be offered relocation in nearby Olymel facilities in the Montérégie region. “

Closing a facility is always a difficult decision. However, after careful evaluation of our capacities and needs in this production sector, we have concluded that the company already has the necessary facilities elsewhere to meet our customers’ demand. The costs associated with continuing the Henryville plant’s current operations would not have allowed this facility to achieve profitability. Olymel hopes that all 29 Henryville plant employees affected by the closure will be able to remain with the company in its other facilities in the region, and we’ll do everything to make this happen,” said Réjean Nadeau, President and CEO of Olymel.

The 70,000-square-foot Henryville further processing plant came under Olymel ownership in January 2020 as part of the transaction to acquire all of F. Ménard’s pork sector assets. This plant was in operation since 2011. The plant’s site and buildings are currently being evaluated, and Olymel will soon make a decision on the future of these facilities.

Second Shift Addition at Ange-Gardien Plant

Following major renovations and a $3 million investment, Olymel management announced Sept. 10 the start of a second slaughter shift at its hog slaughtering, cutting and boning plant in Ange-Gardien, Montérégie (formerly Agromex - F. Ménard). This addition of activities has resulted in the creation of 150 new jobs so far, bringing the number of employees working at this facility to over 700. Over 100 new positions are expected to be filled in the coming months.

Announced last February, the renovation work to accommodate this second shift was completed on schedule. The improvements required to set up this evening shift included the addition of refrigeration space and freezing capacity, the expansion of the cafeteria and parking areas, and the upgrading of wastewater treatment equipment. The plant’s weekly slaughter capacity will therefore increase from 25,000 to 35,000 hogs in the coming weeks. This increase in Olymel’s slaughter volume should also help improve the backlog of hogs awaiting slaughter, whose numbers have reached an unprecedented level in Quebec.

“The increase in slaughter capacity at the Ange-Gardien plant fulfills the development goals Olymel set when it acquired F. Ménard. This investment will also allow our company to increase its production of value-added products, such as chilled pork, a product that is particularly popular in the Japanese market that the Ange-Gardien plant already serves, in addition to the domestic market. In a difficult period, marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, this increase in activity will generate optimism and positive economic spin-offs for the entire Montérégie region. I would like to salute the collaboration of the Agromex workers' union represented by the Centrale des syndicats démocratiques (CSD) for their openness and collaboration throughout the development of this growth project,” Nadeau said.

Olymel is Canada’s leader in the production, processing and distribution of pork and poultry meats. It employs nearly 15,000 people and has production and processing facilities in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick. Olymel exports nearly a third of its total sales. Its annual sales reach $4.5 billion. The company markets its products mainly under the Olymel, Lafleur, Flamingo, Pinty’s, Tour Eiffel and F. MĂ©nard brands.    

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