by BETTER FARMING STAFF
Creating stability for hog suppliers, employees and customers is a primary goal for the new owners of the former Maple Leaf Foods Inc. pork processing plant in Burlington.
The new owners of Ontario’s largest capacity pork processing plant are banking on stability to establish longer-term contracts with high quality hog suppliers and customers, says a spokesman for Florida-based Sun Capital Partners Inc, who declined to be identified. Last week Maple Leaf Foods announced it had sold the Appleby Line plant to Sun Capital, along with related assets, for $20 million.
Current pork producers’ contracts will transfer with the business, which Sun Capital plans to run under the name Fearmans Pork Inc. The spokesman said transition from the Maple Leaf brand will be gradual. The deal includes long-term arrangements to supply Maple Leaf’s processing operations and the Rothsay rendering plant.
The company is interested in new customers and opportunities but right now effort is focused on ensuring the ownership transition is smooth for all of the plant’s current customers. Orders placed with the plant will be continue to be honoured.
The Fearmans Pork trademark was one of the assets acquired in the deal. It was used at the Burlington facility before Maple Leaf Foods was acquired by the McCain family in 1995. The spokesperson says the trademark may have been used by Maple Leaf in a limited capacity for international business. The new owner has yet to determine how prominent the Fearmans brand will be on packaged meats.
An internet search reveals that a U.S. federal trademark for Fearmans Fresh Meats was filed by Fearmans Inc., located at a Burlington address, in July 1993. The website says the trademark was cancelled in June, 2001.
Sun Capital intends to hold the plant separately from numerous other holdings. Among these is canner CanGro Foods Inc. in Burlington, which Sun Capital purchased CanGro from Kraft in 2005 and closed two of its three Ontario canning plants in 2008. The remainder, a tomato processing facility in Dresden, is still in operation.
The spokesman said he could not comment on CanGro’s decisions because he had not been involved.
The Burlington plant has capacity to slaughter 45,000 hogs a week, nearly half of the 93,000 hogs processed in Ontario in the last week in October.
A press release dated Nov 10 says Sun Capital affiliates have invested in more than 240 companies worldwide with combined sales in excess of $40 billion since Sun Capital's inception in 1995.
The same release says Maple Leaf Foods Inc. had sales of CAD $5.2 billion in 2009. BF