Quebec poultry packer to shut ex-Maple Leaf plant

Giannone to close Drummondville facility

The new owner of an antibiotic-free poultry processing plant in the Centre-du-Quebec region is set to shut the plant next week after a “thorough review” of its condition.

Volaille Giannone announced Friday it will close the former Avicomax plant at Drummondville effective Nov. 6, after having bought it from Maple Leaf Foods in July for an undisclosed sum.

Giannone, which already operates a poultry slaughter and packing plant at St-Cuthbert, about 65 km southwest of Trois-Rivieres, said Friday it will now instead “concentrate its activities” at that facility.

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“This difficult decision follows a thorough review of the condition of the plant’s facilities,” CEO Bruno Giannone said in a release.

Company management had come to the conclusion that “the investments required to modernize, renovate the infrastructure and update the equipment of this plant would be too large to ensure its long-term viability,” he said.

Producers who deliver to Drummondville plant have been informed of the plan, Giannone said, and the company “has made all arrangements to honour existing supply contracts with the poultry farmers serving this facility.”

The decision affects 70 employees who were informed of the decision at a meeting Friday, Giannone said, noting it will also set up a “reassignment committee” to offer jobs at the St-Cuthbert plant.

Including a ferry trip across the St. Lawrence River, St-Cuthbert is about 75 km northwest of Drummondville.

Giannone will also pay severance and help other employees with their job searches, the company said.

Giannone, which began as a game bird processor, geared up into poultry packing in 1989 and today employs over 250 people processing fresh and seasoned chicken and vacuum-sealed products for markets in Quebec, other Canadian provinces and the northeastern U.S.

The Drummondville plant had been one of two that Maple Leaf bought from antibiotic-free and organic poultry processor Cericola Farms in October 2018.

At the time, Maple Leaf was shifting most of its flagship chicken brand, Maple Leaf Prime, into the RWA (raised without antibiotics) category, but sold the plant this summer as part of its “continued network optimization.”

Giannone at the time said it expected the Drummondville plant to allow it to boost its total production volume by 40 per cent. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

 

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