The Canadian government has awarded an interest-free loan of up to CA$10 million (US$7.44 million) to Conestoga Meats.

The loan is expected to help increase the Canadian pork industry’s productivity while helping the sector to meet growing domestic demand, as well as global demands amid outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) and other pig diseases.

The loan, which is being issued through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership’s AgriInnovate program, was announced during a visit to the Conestoga Meats facility in Breslau, Ontario, by Minister of Agriculture Marie-Claude Bibeau, and Raj Sainin, member of parliament.

According to a press release from the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada agency, the investment from the government will help the company upgrade its facilities and install a state-of-the art cooling system what will allow for more controlled temperature reduction. The technology will also reduce processing time and improve product shelf life for fresh pork. In doing so it will help Canada expand its export opportunities to Asian countries amid the shortage brought on by ASF, as well as cases of classical swine fever (CSF) in Japan. Exporting to these regions requires advanced capabilities to improve shelf life for chilled pork.

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“Our government is proud to be working with the Canadian pork industry to build a stronger, more innovative sector,” Bibeau stated. “This investment will help the pork sector increase its productivity and capacity to meet growing consumer demand, as well as improve on-farm safety, while fostering continued economic growth and create jobs for our middle class.”

Conestoga Meats is a southwestern Ontario pork processing facility that produces, processes and packages fresh, chilled and frozen pork products. Conestoga Meats is well established in both domestic and international markets, with CA$450 million (US$335 million) in sales for 2017. Conestoga Meats is the second largest pork processor in Ontario and Canada’s fifth largest pork packer.

“Conestoga Meats and its farmer-owners are very appreciative of the interest-free loan that the Government of Canada is making to our business,” said Arnold Drung, president of Conestoga Meats. This is helping us enhance our production capabilities which will allow Conestoga to export more product and create additional jobs in our community.”

View our continuing coverage of the African swine fever outbreak.