MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — Maple Leaf Foods has announced it is investing approximately $28 million to transition its Edmonton poultry processing facility to world-class controlled atmosphere stunning (CAS) technology, reflecting its commitment to building on its leadership in animal care, the poultry sector and value-added branded fresh chicken, the company said.
Maple Leaf will convert its transportation, lairage and receiving area and handling systems to optimize rest-time and create a climate-controlled environment as it implements this technology.
The new lairage system will enhance lighting, air quality and temperature control, allowing chickens to rest comfortably and significantly reducing stress, the company said, adding that the CAS technology selected is a very humane system that will ensure birds are fully insensible prior to processing. The conversion will result in a 26,000-square-foot expansion at the Edmonton facility, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
"We are on a journey to become the most sustainable protein company on earth and being a leader in animal care is a cornerstone of this vision," said Michael McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods. "We are deploying world-class technologies and best practices that support our goal to eliminate stress and pain and provide humane treatment of animals in our care, while enhancing employee health and safety and food quality. With Canada's leading poultry brands, we are advancing many dimensions of sustainability, from eliminating antibiotics, to best practices in animal care and dramatic reductions in our environmental footprint."
"Controlled atmosphere stunning (CAS) provides many advantages to animal welfare, ensuring chickens are fully unconscious and humanely euthanized, while greatly reducing stress," said Dr. Greg Douglas, Maple Leaf's vice president, animal care. "This technology, which we have installed at our pork processing facility in Manitoba, is acknowledged as a best practice around the world."
Maple Leaf Foods is also installing remote video auditing at the Edmonton facility, which is a training and auditing tool that supports rigorous monitoring and compliance to best practices of animal care. This will be the ninth implementation as part of Maple Leaf's commitment to incorporate remote video auditing across its network, the company added.
Poultry is the most consumed protein in Canada and Maple Leaf Foods has the leading national brands and market position in value-added poultry, which continues to experience significant growth, the company said. It has also added a second shift at this facility to keep pace with demand and recently invested approximately $16 million to expand capacity at its hatchery operations in Wetaskiwin, Alberta.
Maple Leaf also notes that it has reached an agreement to acquire two poultry processing facilities and related supply, with value-added capabilities, from Cericola Farms.
Maple Leaf employs approximately 11,500 and does business in Canada, the U.S., and Asia. More information can be obtained at www.mapleleaffoods.com.