Olymel to ramp up processing at Quebec poultry plant

St-Damase expansion work to take about a year

(Olymel video screengrab via YouTube)

Olymel plans to bring more of its poultry further-processing in-house with a $31.5 million expansion at one of its major slaughter and cutting plants in Quebec’s Monteregie.

The meat packing arm of Quebec’s Sollio Co-operative Group announced Monday it had started work that day on a 35,200-square foot plant expansion at St-Damase, about 50 km east of Montreal.

The work will include the addition of an automated cutting line, three automatic deboning lines and four tray packing lines plus new “high-capacity, state-of-the-art” equipment.

The expansion is expected to take about a year “without interrupting the plant’s current operations,” the company said in a release. It’s also expected to bring the plant’s workforce to almost 500 employees on two shifts, an increase of over 80 workers.

“By acquiring the space and equipment needed to pre-package products directly at the plant, Olymel will be able to better serve clients who require large volumes of pre-packaged poultry products for their needs,” CEO Rejean Nadeau said in Monday’s release.

The company “will thus bring operations that used to take place externally in-house, enabling it to reduce product handling and transportation time, and have better control over quality, order management and logistics.”

That said, the expansion isn’t expected to boost the plant’s intake of live birds, according to a company spokesperson.

The St-Damase plant today handles about 15,000 chickens per hour, or about 1.1 million per week, producing about 70 million kg of poultry products per year.

The facility, whose clientele includes the rotisserie and retail distribution sectors, serves private customers with fresh poultry but also supplies Olymel’s own further-processing operations, such as its nearby plant at Ste-Rosalie.

The expansion, Nadeau said, lines up with Olymel’s “determination to consolidate its position in the poultry market, and after the recent difficult months marked by the pandemic, it is also a sign of confidence in the future.”

The work is also expected to include development in “various production-related areas” as well as a new shipping area and a new refrigerated warehouse, and expansions of employee service areas and the plant cafeteria.

The job is the latest in a run of recent expansions at the St-Damase plant, which was rebuilt in 1997 after a major fire. A $10 million air chilling room was added in 2016 and a new carbon dioxide poultry anaesthesia system was installed last year. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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