ATeulon goose plant on the verge of shutting down a year ago will continue to operate under a new owner – the Métis Economic Development Organization (MEDO).
A recently signed agreement with former owner Don Salkeld sees the Métis group assume ownership of Northern Goose Processing for a purchase price of roughly $3 million.
The slaughter line has been idle since last year while Salkeld sought a buyer for the company founded in 1976. A related goose feather and down business is still in operation, said Blake Russell, CEO of the Métis Economic Development Organization.
The plant will resume full production this fall after undergoing $2 million in renovations, slated to finish Sept. 1, Russell said.
Northern Goose is the only federally inspected goose-processing plant in Canada and the only one in North America certified to export goose meat to the European Union.
The company recently won an eight-year legal battle to restore its EU export status after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency delisted the plant as an authorized exporter in 1999.
The courts eventually awarded Salkeld $8.5 million in damages but left him financially drained and wanting to get out of the business. He listed the plant for sale in early 2009.
The newly formed MEDO saw a business opportunity and went for it. Northern Goose is one of the Métis organization’s first commercial enterprises and its very first acquisition, said Russell.
The company will continue to focus on marketing to the European market as an Aboriginal branded product, he said.
“We’re buying this plant to focus on growing the demand overseas taking the Canadian Aboriginal brand and going to the world and selling it.”
Salkeld will continue with the company as the plant’s general manager.
Russell said Northern Goose aims to process 10 million kg (live weight) of geese and turkey annually. A local Hutterite colony was a main supplier in the past. That relationship will continue but the company is also looking for other suppliers, including Métis farmers in the Interlake region, he said.
The only other federally inspected turkey processor in Manitoba is Granny’s Poultry.
MEDO expects the plant will generate $5 million in procurement from local producers, millions of dollars in export sales, 150 full-time jobs and more in spinoff employment, said Russell.
The plant could present an opportunity to turkey producers either to buy more turkey quota or to fill partially empty barns with geese, which do not require quota, he said. [email protected]