Manitoba-based pork processor and producer HyLife Foods has announced plans for a major expansion.
The company says it’s investing up to $125 million in its main processing plant at Neepawa and new finishing barns to supply it. Work is expected to begin in 2017.
The expansion comes as a result of growing demand for Canadian pork in Japan and China, says HyLife president Claude Vielfaure.
With more than $200 million in annual sales to Japan, HyLife has become Canada’s top exporter of fresh chilled pork to the Japanese market. The La Broquerie-based company — in which Japanese trading company Itochu Corporation holds a minority stake — recently opened a restaurant in Tokyo’s trendy Daikanyama district to highlight its own pork.
“HyLife has taken that unique Japanese consumer demand for its domestic pork and worked tirelessly to recreate this taste profile at home in our integrated production and processing system,” says Vielfaure. “The result has been a solid and growing base of Japanese consumers seeking to buy HyLife’s premium fresh chilled pork products, which we grow and process right here in Manitoba.”
Since breaking into the Chinese market in 2008, HyLife has averaged around $80 million in export sales annually. Vielfaure accompanied Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to China in early September, signing a contract with Chinese e-commerce platform JD.com.
The investment “is sending the signal that we can do more” in Japan and China, he says.
The company plans to move to a full double shift schedule at its Neepawa plant, which will require construction of new hog finishing capacity.
Manitoba’s so-called hog barn moratorium has forced HyLife to source pigs from outside the province over the past decade, but the province has started to relax the ban for new operations that comply with costly manure treatment rules.
The expansion also includes plans for another feed mill, coming on the heels of the grand opening of a 5,000 tonne/week feed facility at Randolph in early September.
HyLife expects to hire another 165 employees, bringing the company’s workforce to a total of around 2,000.