Olymel says work started this week on a $31.5 million expansion at the company’s poultry processing plant at St-Damase, Montérégie, Quebec — east of Montreal.

The large pork and poultry processor says it’s adding 35,200 square feet to the poultry plant, which will include a new automated cutting line, three automatic deboning lines and four tray packing lines, as well as a new shipping area, a new refrigerated warehouse, and expanded cafeteria and employee service areas.

The company says the expansion will create more than 80 new jobs, bringing the total for the St-Damase facility to nearly 500.

“By acquiring the space and equipment needed to pre-package products directly at the plant, Olymel will be able to better serve clients who require large volumes of pre-packaged poultry products for their needs. Olymel will thus bring operations that used to take place externally in-house, enabling it to reduce product handling and transportation time, and have better control over quality, order management and logistics,” says Olymel president and CEO Réjean Nadeau, in a statement.

He says the expansion is also “a sign of confidence in the future” in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The St-Damase facility processes more than 70 million kilograms of poultry products annually, supplying fresh poultry products for private customers and Olymel’s further-processing poultry plants, including a neighbouring plant in Ste-Rosalie.

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