Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Toronto pork packer in creditor protection

Ontario’s hog farmers are still processing news that a mainstay of the Toronto meat packing industry is in creditor protection.

Quality Meat Packers and its Toronto Abattoirs arm have been granted 30 days’ creditor protection Thursday to “evaluate restructuring alternatives,” Ontario Pork reported Friday morning.

Ontario Pork, which represents the province’s 1,500-plus hog producers, said Friday it’s “still trying to understand the scope of what this means” and “does not know the impact yet this will have on the provincial industry.”

The company has notified its customers and suppliers, is “preparing plans for operating next week,” plans to continue operating its downtown Toronto facilities and is “working co-operatively with its lender,” Ontario Pork said in a statement.

The organization emphasized this does not mean Quality is bankrupt, but that it’s been granted a month under the proposal provisions of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act to work with its proposal trustee, A. Farber and Partners, on “identifying and evaluating the alternatives being considered for the business.”

Two affiliated Ontario processors, Mitchell-based Great Lakes Specialty Meats and Etobicoke-based Tasty Chip, are “operating as normal” and not under creditor protection, Ontario Pork added.

Formed in 1931 by meat market operator Nick Schwartz, Quality Meat Packers in 1960 bought the Toronto Civic Abattoir where it still operates today, supplying retailers and marketing its own Legacy brand pork products.

Thanks to its location, however, the Quality packing plant in recent years has famously drawn complaints and protests from condo-dwelling neighbours and animal-welfare activists in what’s now Toronto’s Fashion District.

The aging facility in 2011 picked up $3 million for upgrades through the federal Slaughter Improvement Program, earmarked to “enhance food safety and traceability, improve plant efficiency, and reduce operating costs through the purchase of value-added equipment.”

The federally-inspected plant is licensed for slaughter, boning, cutting, rendering and casing preparation, and for export to the U.S., the European Union, China, Mexico, Australia and Brazil, among other countries.

Eric Atkins of Toronto’s Globe and Mail on Friday quoted a Quality executive citing volatility in hog prices as a factor in the company’s current woes. Hog prices have risen dramatically in the past year, partly on the arrival and spread of the porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus in the U.S.

PEDv, which was first confirmed in the U.S. in April last year and is largely fatal in newborn piglets, has since been confirmed in hogs on 5,267 farms across 27 states as of March 29. The virus was first confirmed in Ontario in January and has since been confirmed in hogs on 48 farms: 45 in Ontario and one each in Manitoba, Quebec and Prince Edward Island.

Ontario’s two most recent cases were confirmed Wednesday on a finishing operation in Bruce County and a farrow-to-wean operation in Huron County. The virus, which causes diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration, is not often fatal in the older hogs found in finisher barns. — Network


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