Some Ontario hog farmers are still facing marketing disruptions for market-weight hogs as Olymel in Quebec continues to work its way through a significant backlog.
Chair of Ontario Pork, John de Bruyn, says that while the majority of Ontario’s 5.8 million hogs are processed at one of two federally-inspected plants in the province, about 25,000 of the province’s hogs are processed in Quebec each week.
The majority of those 25,000 have gone to Olymel in the past. However, the several-months-long worker strike at Olymel’s Vallée-Jonction plant in Beauce, Quebec this summer created a huge backlog of hogs to process. De Bruyn says that although operations resumed at the plant in September, the plant is still not operating at full capacity due to labour shortages.
The backlog of hogs in Quebec has further delayed Ontario hogs being shipped to Quebec.
“In the immediate term, Ontario producers and marketers are actively working to ship excess and held hogs into other channels, including Western Canada and the United States. About 80 Ontario producers at various points in the supply chain are impacted by the Quebec situation,” says Ontario Pork.
“Addressing the backlog will take time,” says de Bruyn.
At least one Ontario producer (who asked we not use their name) says that they have had to hold hogs back, because Olymel is not buying even the reduced number the company committed to. Shipping hogs to Western Canada or to the U.S. is less profitable than moving hogs further or across the border.
Olymel announced in October that it would reduce its live hog purchases by 25,000 per week, beginning in March 2022. This includes a reduction of 15,000 hogs from Quebec and 10,000 hogs from Ontario, potentially creating a structural change in local hog demand.