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Niverville hog firm buys Winkler Meats

The new owners of slaughter and packing company Winkler Meats hope to build on its product lines with a more consistent supply of cull sows.

The Progressive Group, a Niverville hog company with a production base of about 35,000 sows, has bought the federally inspected meat packing company from Winkler’s Dyck family and other local shareholders, for an undisclosed sum.

Dickson Gould, who was president and general manager of Elite Swine until 2003 and is now president of the Progressive Group, said the new owners will keep the company’s current staff – including Warren Dyck as general manager – and also plan to build on its existing product lines.

Those include a farmer’s sausage brand that’s “very strong” in the Prairie market, as well as the company’s specialty work in processing bison and elk.

“We have always been impressed with Winkler Meats’ products and the operation of Winkler Meats,” Gould said in a release, “and we are excited with the consumer confidence and recognition for the quality and tradition of the Winkler Meats brand.”

The Progressive Group – whose current executives have previously worked for various arms of Maple Leaf Foods and whose barns have contracts with Maple Leaf for market hogs – offers Winkler Meats a steady supply of raw product, in the form of cull sows, Gould said.

And the Winkler plant, which Gould estimated is now operating at about 70 to 80 per cent of capacity, is geared more toward processing sows than market hogs, he added.

The Winkler Meats facility also gives the new owners a federally inspected slaughter facility at a time when Gould foresees that provincially inspected facilities may come under more pressure to upgrade to a nationwide standard.

The sale, which took effect Dec. 31, follows the company’s loss of its patriarch, Warren Dyck’s father Harry Dyck, who died in Ukraine in June at age 65. Harry Dyck had owned and operated the business for 43 years.

Winkler Meats will continue to operate in Winkler under the Winkler Meats name, and will also continue its support of local projects and organizations, the new owners said.

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