Olymel reducing operations in Alberta and Saskatchewan

Olymel reducing operations in Alberta and Saskatchewan
May 30, 2023

About 80 workers will lose their jobs

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Olymel is closing multiple production facilities in Western Canada.

A May 26 press release from the company indicates five sow units in Alberta (Smoky Sow/Dev, Pinnacle 1, Pinnacle 2, Dynacrest 1 and Dynacrest 2) and one sow unit in Saskatchewan (Kelsey) will close.

These closures will reduce Olymel’s sow herd by almost 30 per cent – from 57,000 to 40,000.

As a result, about 80 people have received layoff notices.

High production costs and market access challenges over the last 24 months have led the company to this decision, said Yanick Gervais, CEO of Olymel.

"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,” he 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.”

The affected barns will wind down and remain closed until conditions improve.

The reduction in production will also mean a reduction in processing.

Olymel estimates its Red Deer processing plant will process about 200,000 fewer market hogs annually. But the impact isn’t expected to be felt until 2024, the company says.

Olymel has announced multiple closures and staff reductions in the last while.

In October 2022, the company reduced its workforce by 177 people, affecting mostly administrative staff in Quebec.

Then in February 2023, Olymel announced further operation reductions in Quebec.

The organization decided to close two processing facilities in Blainville and Laval because other existing locations can accommodate the production from the two affected Quebec locations.

The announcement in February resulted in the loss of 170 jobs.

And in April 2023, Olymel announced more closures affecting employees in Quebec.

The processing, cutting and deboning plant in Vallée-Jonction will wrap up operations in December, resulting in 994 lost jobs.

The company made the decision to close this location to help ensure Olymel’s survival.

“The decision was necessary to stop losses in the fresh pork sector, which have amounted to more than $400 million over the past two years and are jeopardizing the entire company's profitability,” the company said in a statement.

Farms.com has contacted members of the ag community for comment.

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