One in every three Manitobans has grown up without seeing a new beef-packing plant opened in Winnipeg.
That streak came to an end this week when the city’s first new beef plant in roughly a generation was to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony March 10.
Keystone Processors Ltd. is housed in the former Maple Leaf pork plant at 663 Marion St. in St. Boniface. The facility is undergoing extensive renovation and hopes to open a federally inspected killing floor for cattle in early 2011, said Kelly Penner, company president and general manager.
It hopes to slaughter 250 cattle a day at a single-shift capacity after it receives federal certification, he said. A second shift to kill another 250 head is possible later on.
In the meantime, Keystone Processors operates its Winnipeg plant as a cutting facility, killing 40 head of cattle a week at two provincially inspected abattoirs in McCreary and Carman, and processing the carcasses in the city, Penner said.
The company sold its first shipment of beef in February to Winnipeg Old Country Meats. It also sent a boneless beef shipment to De Luca Brothers, an Italian food store in Winnipeg, which will sell it under its own label.
Keystone Processors is a joint venture of Natural Prairie Beef and the Manitoba Cattle Enhancement Council. A deal to buy the Marion Street plant in July 2008 was made possible by a $2.4 million investment from MCEC, a provincial agency supporting beef processing in Manitoba.
MCEC is funded by a mandatory, refundable $2-per-head checkoff on cattle sold within Manitoba. The government dollar-matches producers’ contributions.