Pork plant adds jobs (and hogs)

MPP says Bres­lau pro­ducer’s $5.3M grant will make a ‘tremen­dous im­pact’

Waterloo Region Record - - FRONT PAGE - Jeff Hicks, Record staff

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.

PETER LEE, RECORD STAFF

MPP Daiene Vernile with Matthew Peters, left, chair of Pro­gres­sive Pork Pro­duc­ers Co-op­er­a­tive, and Con­estoga’s Arnold Drung.

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