Pork plant adds jobs (and hogs)
MPP says Breslau producer’s $5.3M grant will make a ‘tremendous impact’
BRESLAU — More hogs going in. More jobs arriving too.
“It’s tremendously exciting,” Conestoga Meat Packers president Arnold Drung said Friday as the province announced a $5.3million grant to help the Breslau pork processor with the $50-million expansion that’s underway at its Menno Street facilities.
“Right now, we’re doing 29,000 hogs per week. We have the potential to go up into the mid-50s,” he said.
And the jobs will go up too at Ontario’s second-largest pork processor.
The staff of 900 will grow by 170 over the next two years. And then maybe more jobs — the potential of another 165 in the future — could follow after that, according to Kitchener Centre MPP Daiene Vernile.
It’s a big boost for the local economy, she said.
“For every person you hire, that person goes out and rents an apartment or buys a house or buys a car and gets an oil change or puts groceries on the table or buys running shoes and a backpack for their kids,” said Vernile, who made the Jobs and Prosperity Fund grant announcement on behalf of provincial agriculture minister Jeff Leal.
“You are making a tremendous impact on a person’s life.”
Conestoga’s processing capacity will essentially double, and the company will gain the ability to produce value-added products as well, after a 100,000-square-foot addition now under construction is completed.
This is Conestoga’s fifth and largest expansion since the Progressive Pork Producers Co-operative purchased the company 16 years ago this week. The Co-op has 157 farmer owners and the plant is almost exclusively supplied by them.
Exports to 29 countries last year represent half of Conestoga’s sales.
“This is really the next big step in our evolution,” Drung said after a news confer-
ence attended by Woolwich Township Mayor Sandy Shantz and Waterloo Region chair Ken Seiling.
“We have to be globally competitive. That’s what this is all about, making sure we are globally competitive.”
Four years ago, the province pitched in $1.5-million to help Conestoga with a $14-million expansion.
About 50 jobs were expected to be added as a result, Drung said.
Instead, after the demise of a large Toronto-based competitor, employment more than doubled with more than 400 jobs created.
Conestoga Meat Packers was founded in Waterloo in 1982. It moved to the Breslau property in 1988.
The plant had 35 workers when the co-operative bought the facility in 2001. Soon, it will surpass 1,000 employees.
“We’ve been growing for years,” Drung said.
MPP Daiene Vernile with Matthew Peters, left, chair of Progressive Pork Producers Co-operative, and Conestoga’s Arnold Drung.