Canadian pork industry challenged with plant closures

Courtesy Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan

The Canadian pork industry continues to face roadblocks in rebuilding pork demand and prices, highlighted by the closure of the Olymel processing plant in Vallée-Jonction, Quebec and a HyLife plant in Minnesota.

Stephen Heckbert, executive director of the Canadian Pork Council (CPC), says the closures don’t necessarily need to be in Canada to impact the Canadian market, as the North American market is connected tightly.

There is a market for Canadian pork, but it’s also about finding the right price point, says Heckbert. The current down-cycle is having “a particularly onerous impact on our processors at this moment,” he notes.

It may be challenging now, but the future, says Heckbert, is looking quite positive.

“There’s a large interest in Canadian pork products around the world,” he says. “The plant slated for closure in December, there’s lots of conversations to be had before now and then surrounding the Olymel plant, and lots of conversations about what’s the right way for the Canadian industry to be ready to provide product to our global markets in a way that will let them buy it in an affordable way.”

As far as Canada’s future relationship with China, after being shut out from the Chinese market for a year-and-a-half, the council is hoping to build more direct relationships in China with an increased presence in the country.

“Canada Pork has hired a Chinese director to help with market access in China. So we know a lot of these relationships are going to have to be not at the political level, but much more at the official level. We’re really trying to improve our relationship there, it’s an important market, and is going to continue to be an important market,” says Heckbert. “From our perspective, it needs some investing.”

Check out the full conversation between Heckbert and RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney, below:

Related:

Assessing the impact of California’s Prop 12 on pork trade

Pork Council looking for solutions following Olymel closure

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