Meat and Poultry Ontario (MPO) is launching a project to identify opportunities to increase meat processing capacity in Ontario.

The $127,000 project, funded through the federal/provincial Canadian Agricultural Partnership, is aimed at addressing a growing demand for abattoir services across the province, including the north.

MPO has begun researching a strategy that pairs skills development with innovative technologies to increase efficiency and capacity across the sector. This work builds on three additional federal-provincial funding programs introduced over the last year to deal with more urgent challenges, including food safety initiatives, funding for workplace health and safety modifications, and funding for capacity increases.

“The pandemic has highlighted some of the vulnerabilities in the meat and poultry sector, one of them being the need to increase processing capacity,” says Carol Goriup, president of Meat & Poultry Ontario, whose membership consists of independent meat businesses across the province.

“This study is the first step in identifying opportunities and possible solutions for the future growth of our sector.  We would like to thank the federal and provincial governments for their timely funding of this project,” she says.

Provincial abattoirs and provincially-licensed processors have been consulted to understand the current state of their operations, the potential for growth and the technology requirements to support that growth, MPO says.

The organization says it will also work with farmers to understand both current and future needs for processing and packaging and how their needs differ based on where they are in the province. The data will be collected and analyzed for the creation of a potential centralized reservation system of processing that could be developed in the future.

There are 480 provincially-licensed and 230 federally-licensed abattoirs and free-standing meat plants in Ontario.

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