A new pork processing plant has been established at Moose Jaw. The plant plans to process the 200,000 cull sows that are currently exported to the U.S.
Donald’s Fine Food owned by Donald Leung and his family already runs Thunder Creek Pork in Moose Jaw processing a little over 300,000 market hogs per year. Their second facility is North 49 Foods, developed from the former XL Foods beef plant in Moose Jaw, a 120,000 square foot facility that has been vacant for more than a decade.
“Donald’s saw an opportunity for a new plant that would harvest sows and sows really haven’t been harvested in Canada to any extent. This will be the largest sow plant in Canada. There are about 200,000 that would go into Manitoba to be assembled and then their final destination would be down in the United States so a lot of those animals would be transported about 15 hours or about 1500 clicks for processing, so diesel economics works for us to keep them in the province. Producers are obviously going to save a lot on transportation.” said Neil Ketilson, industry relations manager for Donald’s Fine Foods.
Processing the sows in Canada also prevents border crossing issues – both biosecurity concerns and concerns over border closures that can occur from time to time. North 49 Foods will start this week on a small scale ramping up over time.
“We have 42 new Canadians from the Philippines in Moose Jaw right now. They are being trained and going through all the immigration stuff they have to do and then we’re bringing in more as time goes by. We hope to have about 80 for full start up an then over the course of the next year they expect to have 200 people in that plant by this time next year.” said Ketilson.
Together with the Thunder Creek Pork operation, there will be 450 employees in Moose Jaw. Cull sows are two or more times larger than market ready hogs. The sows will mostly be processed into sausage products initially, but other cuts will be investigated. Thunder Creek is the only federally inspected plant in Saskatchewan. With North 49 Foods, there will now be two. At the grand opening last week, Donald’s Fine Foods donated $50,000 to the Food Bank and $50,000 to the Moose Jaw Health Foundation.