The far east of eastern Ontario is set to host a brand-new federally inspected livestock and food processing facility as of 2022.

The United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) has announced the creation of a food hub, in partnership with the private sector. The UCPR will build a federally-inspected slaughterhouse, for both red meat and poultry processing, with food processing and distribution capacities at one location.

The $36-million project will create 65 jobs and will be located in one of the UCPR’s municipalities, though the exact location has not yet been disclosed. Financial projections for Year 1 show annual sales of over $11 million.

“It is time for municipalities to launch innovative projects that will generate new revenue streams that will help cover municipal expenses with funds other than government subsidies and property taxes. Furthermore, the UCPR will be the majority shareholder of this agri-food company,” says UCPR warden Pierre Leroux.

This business model, unique in Canada, is modelled in part on American food hubs where producers send their cattle to slaughter, after which they are packaged and distributed in a predetermined market. This project is unique here because all types of meats and vegetables will be processed.

For the first time, all seven of these services will be publicly available under one roof:

  • Slaughtering and cold storage of red meat and white meat
  • Processing of raw meat, fruits, vegetables, ready-to-eat products (RTE)
  • Processing of by-products, such as leather and feathers
  • Processing of products lost to insufficient storage (strawberries)
  • Access to new markets, like pet food creation
  • Marketing and distribution to local, retail, food service, restaurants and industrial buyers
  • Ability to meet traceability standards for product delivery inter-provincially and internationally.

Research has also confirmed that retailers and consumers are increasingly interested in buying traceable, local products. The food hub will take the lead in the recovery and revival of agri-food in the region, particularly following the Covid-19 pandemic, the organization says in a press release.

“We have learned from the current pandemic situation,” says Stéphane Sarrazin, chair of the UCPR Economic Development and Tourism Committee. “Due to the increasing uncertainty across international markets, food self-sufficiency has become more important in terms of availability, freshness and traceability.”

A call for tenders to find private sector partners will be issued shortly. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2021 and the opening is planned for the fall of 2022.

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