By Laharee Chatterjee
Nov 26 (Reuters) - Canada's Maple Leaf Foods Inc said on Monday it plans to set up a C$660 million ($498 million) poultry processing plant in Ontario with investments from the Canadian and the provincial government.
The company, which owns brands including Greenfield Natural Meat, Prime and Schneiders, said construction at the London, Ontario plant will start in 2019. The company plans to open the plant in the second-quarter of 2021 and expects it to add to earnings, starting 2022.
"The plant will increase our meat processing capacity by 33 percent as demand for chicken in Canada is high," Chief Executive Officer Michael McCain told Reuters.
Maple Leaf's other three plants in St. Mary's, Toronto and Brampton will eventually be shut down and their operations will be consolidated with the new London facility. McCain said the restructuring will result in the loss of around 300 jobs.
The company will invest about C$605.5 million, with C$34.5 million from the Ontario government and C$20 million from the Government of Canada.
The plant will allow Maple Leaf to modernize its poultry production at a time when demand for antibiotics free and halal chicken products are gaining popularity among meat eaters. Chicken is the most consumed and fastest growing meat protein in Canada. The packaged meat producer expects to incur one-time costs of about C$140 million and plans to fund its investment through a combination of cash flow from operations and debt.
$1 = 1.3257 Canadian dollars Reporting by Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber