Olymel downsizing Western Canadian sow herd due to financial losses

Olymel says it has “made the difficult decision” to reduce its hog operations in Western Canada due to continued financial losses and uncertainty in pork markets.

Approximately 80 employees at five sow facilities in Alberta (Smoky Sow/Dev, Pinnacle 1, Pinnacle 2, Dynacrest 1 and Dynacrest 2) and one farm in Saskatchewan (Kelsey) have been given layoff notices. The barns will be closed over the next few months, and remain shuttered until market conditions improve, the company says.

The decision will reduce the Quebec-based company’s sow herd in Western Canada from 57,000 to around 40,000 sows. As a result, the number of market hogs from company-owned farms headed to Olymel’s slaughter plant in Red Deer, Alta. is expected to decline by 200,000 starting in 2024.

“Over the past two years it is well documented that Olymel has experienced significant losses in the processing of fresh pork as a result of limited market access globally. Now coupled with stubbornly high feed costs resulting in unprecedented losses in the hog sector we have little choice but to retract and position ourselves for success in the future when conditions improve,” says Olymel CEO Yanick Gervais, in a May 26 statement. “I am confident that the changes being implemented in Olymel’s Western Canadian integrated hog sector will provide the foundation for ensuring that success.”

Olymel is also in the process of closing its pork processing plant in Vallée-Jonction, Quebec, which employed around 1,000 staff.

Related coverage:

Pork sector faces harsh realities for 2023

Pork Council looking for solutions following Olymel closure

Canadian pork industry challenged with plant closures

Wake up with RealAgriculture

Subscribe to our daily newsletters to keep you up-to-date with our latest coverage every morning.

Wake up with RealAgriculture