Olymel officials announced the coming end of ham deboning operations at its Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada plant. Operations are expected to continue until September 2017.

After deboning operations cease, 340 jobs will be eliminated at the Saint-Hyacinthe plant. However, the company will maintain rendering operations for lard production at this facility, as well as frozen product storage operations, which will make it possible to maintain 70 positions.

Ham deboning will be done at facilities where there are slaughtering and butchering operations, thus improving operational efficiency and reducing costs, in terms of both fixed costs and shipping, according to an Olymel press release. Three Olymel plants that do slaughtering and butchering (St-Esprit, Yamachiche and Vallée-Jonction) are geographically closer to the processing plants they supply with raw materials.

In addition to maintaining rendering operations, Olymel is studying various options to find a new use for the plant, which would enable it to fulfill other needs for the company.

"This is a difficult decision, but a necessary one if we are to achieve the conditions of efficiency and profitability that will enable us to maintain the bulk of other jobs across all our operations, and even create new ones," said Réjean Nadeau, president and CEO of Olymel L.P., in a press release.

A relocation committee will be formed and a plan to relocate employees to other Olymel facilities situated within 70 km of Saint-Hyacinthe has been formulated. The company operates large food processing plants at sites such as Drummondville, Sainte-Rosalie, Saint-Damase and Saint-Jean-Baptiste, and facilities that perform other types of operations in St-Bruno, Boucherville and Saint-Valérien.

Olymel employs close to 11,000 persons, including more than 8,000 in Quebec, and has facilities in Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan. Olymel exports nearly a third of its total sales, mainly to the United States, Japan and Australia, as well as over 65 other countries. Its annual sales are close to 3 billion dollars.