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Quebec packer buying Maple Leaf chicken plant

Avicomax's supply agreements with farmers remain

avicomax drummondville
(Maple Leaf Foods photo via Facebook)

A family-owned Quebec poultry packer specializing in antibiotic-free and organic chicken is set to buy a Maple Leaf Foods facility in the same line of work.

Volaille Giannone, which operates a poultry slaughter and packing plant at St-Cuthbert, about 65 km southwest of Trois-Rivieres, announced Thursday it has a deal in place to buy Maple Leaf Foods’ Avicomax chicken plant at Drummondville, Que. for an undisclosed sum.

The Avicomax plant was one of two that Maple Leaf bought from antibiotic-free and organic poultry processor Cericola Farms in October 2018.

Volaille Giannone said the Drummondville plant, which employs about 100 people, will allow it to increase its production volume by 40 per cent.

“The agreement is in line with our growth objective and will help slightly increasing our production volume,” CEO Bruno Giannone said in the company’s release. “This transaction will also strengthen our marketing capacities to better meet our customers’ needs.”

The deal includes a three-year agreement to supply Maple Leaf with fresh chicken, Giannone said, and the new owner “commits to honouring existing supply agreements with poultry producers.”

The sale is expected to close this summer, subject to the usual closing conditions and regulatory approvals, Maple Leaf said in a separate release.

Maple Leaf also said Thursday it will keep and continue to operate the other Cericola poultry plant it owns at Bradford, Ont.

Maple Leaf had bought the two plants in 2018 when it was shifting most of its flagship chicken brand, Maple Leaf Prime, into the RWA (raised without antibiotics) category, which at the time it said was growing at a rate of about 25 per cent per year in Canada alone.

“Over the past few years, our leadership position in this category has grown; however, we are focused on prioritizing capital and optimizing our processing network,” Maple Leaf CEO Michael McCain said Thursday.

The sale of the Drummondville plant, he said, “is an outcome of our continued network optimization.”

Volaille Giannone, which began as a game bird processor, geared up into poultry packing in 1989 and today employs over 250 people processing fresh and seasoned chicken and vacuum-sealed products for markets in Quebec, other Canadian provinces and the northeastern U.S. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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