Olymel cutting about 80 jobs as it reduces hog production in Alberta, Saskatchewan | Globalnews.ca

Food producer Olymel said Friday it is cutting about 80 jobs as it reduces its hog production in Western Canada.

The company said it is closing five sow units in Alberta and one sow unit in Saskatchewan in a move that will reduce its western sow herd to 40,000 from 57,000.

It said the barns will be wound down over the next several months and remain closed until market conditions improve.

The company says the closures will result in a net reduction of about 200,000 market hogs annually to its Red Deer, Alta., slaughter plant from company owned farms.

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However, it said the impact will not be felt until 2024 at the earliest and will be subject to independent hog supply availability.

The company said it will work with the affected staff to fill any vacant positions within its western hog operations or find work outside the company.

“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,” Olymel CEO Yanick Gervais said in a statement.

“Now, coupled with stubbornly high feed costs resulting in unprecedent losses in the hog sector, we have little choice but to retract and position ourselves for success in the future when conditions improve.”

This is the latest move in Olymel’s restructuring in the face of tough market conditions.

Click to play video: 'Olymel to layoff around 1,000 workers with Quebec pork plant closure'

Olymel to layoff around 1,000 workers with Quebec pork plant closure

The news comes five weeks after the Quebec-based pork producer said it was closing a major slaughterhouse south of Quebec City and laying off 994 workers.

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At that time, CEO Yanick Gervais said the company’s fresh pork operations have lost $400 million in the last two years because of factors including the COVID-19 pandemic, labour shortages, rising inflation and the instability of export markets — especially China.

As a result, the company decided to reduce the total number of hogs slaughtered by about 1.5 million annually.

Earlier this year, it also announced it would shutter two plants, in Blainville, Que., and Laval, Que.

Quebec is the biggest pork producer in the Canada, with 31 per cent of the country’s inventory as of 2021, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

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