After a year of work and an investment of over $30 million, the poultry slaughterhouse and cutting plant in St-Damase in Montérégie Est has opened its new pre-packaging facilities. This major work—which enabled the plant to add additional cutting, deboning and tray packing lines, as well as install state-of-the-art equipment—was done without impacting normal operations, which is a remarkable feat. The Olymel plant in St-Damase now has the capacity to serve customers requiring high volumes of pre-packaged poultry products. Incorporating the pre-packing lines, which were previously outsourced, into the St-Damase facility will significantly reduce product handling and transportation as well as provide tighter control over quality, order processing and logistics. This project's completion, delivered on time, led to the creation of 80 new jobs, bringing the number of employees working at this facility to over 500.
"Completing this project will enable Olymel to respond more efficiently and quickly to the requirements of customers looking for quality and large volumes of specific poultry products to better serve consumers,” said Réjean Nadeau, president and chief executive officer of Olymel. “Olymel has an undeniable competitive advantage in controlling its processing activities from A to Z and its quality right up until delivery. It's also what our customers are looking for. I want to thank the teams that contributed to completing this growth-generating project and acknowledge the valuable partnership from the United Food and Commercial Workers, UFCW Local 1991P, which represents the St-Damase employees.”
He continued, “This investment of nearly $32 million, in addition to those made over the past few years also in the order of around $30 million and all the new jobs it created, will have a positive effect on St-Damase's and the greater St-Hyacinthe region's economy.”
Capacity and diversification
The work done over the past year at Olymel's St-Damase plant included adding a new automated cutting line, three new automated deboning lines, four tray packing lines, a new shipping area and a refrigerated warehouse, and reorganizing the production areas. The plant's employee facilities and the cafeteria were also expanded. A total of 35,000 sq. ft. were added to the plant's surface area, bringing it up to a total of 150,000 sq. ft. Using CO2 anaesthesia equipment, the weekly slaughter capacity at the St-Damase plant is approximately 1 million birds.
For its new pre-packed tray operations, the St-Damase plant is organizing its operations in one shift and will prepare air-cooled poultry products, such as breasts, drumsticks, wings, deboned thighs, and bone-in skin-on thighs, intended for private customers. The plant also supplies Olymel's further processing plants with fresh products and has an annual production volume of 75 million kilos.