London lands at $ 660 million plant to bring 1,500 jobs


A food giant plans to open a $ 660 million factory in London that will bring about 1,500 jobs to the city.

Maple Leaf Foods announced on Tuesday that it is opening a massive 60,000-square-foot facility on 40 acres of land in the city, opening a poultry processing plant in 2020.

"We are absolutely thrilled to attract an investment of this magnitude. London is a strong center for food processing now and the addition of Maple Leaf puts us in a different category, "said Kapil Lakhotia, chief executive of London Economic Development Corp. who worked with Maple Leaf for three years to get that investment.

London has more than 60 agri-food companies employing about 7,000 workers, Lakhotia said.

Maple Leaf bought land from the city and construction will begin in the spring. The factory will begin production in 2021 and will hire 1,450 workers.

The Maple Leaf was attracted to London for the availability of land, proximity to poultry farms, skilled workers and the logistics of the city's access to 401 and 402 highways.

"The London site was perfect," Lakhotia said.

Architectural drawings of the new Maple Leaf plan planned for London, Ont.

The plant will be built on Highway 401 and Highbury Avenue on Wilton Grove Road. The Ontario government is contributing $ 34.5 million in incentives and the federal government $ 20 million.

"This will be one of the most technologically advanced poultry facilities in the world," said Lakhotia. "You need constant investment to stay competitive."

Mayor Matt Brown celebrated what he called the largest food industry investment in the city.

"This is absolutely fantastic news for London. We should all be in a trance. This is important for the local economy. "

Brown credited LEDC for the plant's landing, saying the city's economic development model works.

"They do an important job to retain, grow and attract investment and jobs in the community."

Premier Doug Ford of Ontario is expected to be in London on Tuesday, as will the federal agriculture minister, joining other politicians and industry officials for the announcement.

"This is great news for the London area," said Sylvain Charlebois, a professor of food distribution and politics at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

"Food processing in Canada needs this investment. Still not enough.

Over the past 10 years, about 4,000 new processing plants have been opened in the US and over the same period, Canada had about 10 openings, he said.

"It's about being more efficient, and Maple Leaf will force the economy to create qualified people for those jobs. London is the right place for that.

The recent free trade agreement between Canada, the US and Mexico also opens up possibilities for London to provide food to the United States, Charlebois said.

"Because of the USMCA, there is a much more open American market from the point of view of chicken production."

Maple Leaf is consolidating production in London of factories in St. Marys, Toronto and Brampton, closing the three oldest facilities. It is believed that these workers will be offered work in London.

London already has a growing food sector with Oetker, the frozen pizza maker, the Nestlé ice cream factory, Sikorski Sausage and Cargill, another chicken processor, announcing plant expansions and new investments this year.

Oetker has announced that it is investing $ 54.5 million to add a production line to the factory, increasing the workforce to 300 out of 200. It produces more than 40 million pizzas per year.

Nestlé announced an investment of $ 51 million, adding about 200 positions.

Cargill, which employs more than 800 people, has invested $ 22 million in its London facility.

Sikorski, which manufactures smoked sausages and cold meats, invested $ 3.2 million, adding 10 new positions.

Ontario's agri-food sector is worth more than $ 37 billion and supports more than 800,000 jobs throughout the province, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

What did they say:

"This world-class facility will allow Maple Leaf to meet growing consumer demand for premium value-added poultry products and strengthen Canada's food system. It will incorporate state-of-the-art food, environmental and animal care technologies that drive our vision to be the global leader in sustainable protein. This is a historic investment in the Canadian poultry industry, providing significant economic and stakeholder benefits and ensuring that Canada has sufficient processing capacity to meet poultry production and demand. "

– Michael H. McCain, President and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods

"Our government is excited to invest in the Maple Leaf Foods project to help bring innovations to Canada's food processing industry, keep Canada competitive in the global market and create new middle-class jobs in Ontario. This new state-of-the-art facility demonstrates how innovation is creating jobs and helping the environment with more sustainable poultry processing.

– Navdeep Bains, Minister for Innovation, Science and Economic Development

"Canada's agri-food industry is one of the key drivers of innovation and well-paying jobs across the country. Our government is proud to invest in Maple Leaf Foods, helping to position Canada as a globally competitive competitor in the food processing industry and to increase the competitiveness and sustainability of our agricultural sector. "

– Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

"This is the largest investment in the history of Ontario's agricultural sector, demonstrates the confidence of the industry in our growing economy and is another example of how we are making Ontario open to business.It's great to see a company like Maple Leaf investing here in London "This innovative new factory will streamline processing and help make Ontario's chicken farmers more competitive."

– Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario

"I would like to receive Maple Leaf Foods in London. London's commitment to world-class infrastructure and a robust industrial land strategy puts London in a competitive position to attract investment of this magnitude. "

– Matt Brown, Mayor of London


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