May 21, 2013, Clair, NB - In a ceremony attended by more than 700 guests, Réjean Nadeau, President and CEO of Olymel l.p. and also President of Sunnymel and Thomas Soucy, CEO of Groupe Westco Inc., and Vice President of Sunnymel, took part in the traditional ribbon cutting ceremony, officially inaugurating activities at the new Sunnymel chicken slaughterhouse and cutting plant in the Village of Clair, New Brunswick. The event was attended by many elected officials, including the Premier of New Brunswick, the Honourable David Alward and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and Member of Parliament for Madawaska-Restigouche, Bernard Valcourt.
This more than $50 million investment was made possible through the business partnership between Groupe Westco, one of the largest poultry producers in the country, and the Quebec agrifood processing and distribution giant Olymel, the leader in its field in the Canadian market, which exports its products to more than sixty countries.
The plant, which gradually started operations on November 30 last year, already employs close to 200 persons, and its products are now gaining an enviable share of the Maritimes market as well as distribution channels for other provinces. When it reaches its full slaughtering capacity, the Sunnymel plant will process 12,000 chickens per hour, or about 450,000 birds per week, which represents a major opportunity for all players in the New Brunswick poultry supply line.
A SIGN OF CONFIDENCE IN THE FUTURE
Guests in attendance included Sunnymel managers, employees and their families, as well as several representatives from various levels of government, notably the Minister Responsible, Northern New Brunswick Initiative, Paul Robichaud; the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Madawaska-les-Lacs, Yvon Bonenfant; the Minister of Social Development, Madeleine Dubé; the Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, Danny Soucy; and the Mayor of the Village of Clair, Pierre Michaud.
The Premier noted that the opening of this new facility demonstrates great confidence in New Brunswick's capacity for economic development. "Alliances like the one between Olymel and Groupe Westco help create jobs here and promote our products and the know-how of our producers and workers. This partnership draws on the innovativeness and strength of our workforce here in New Brunswick. This achievement is fully in line with our plan to create jobs and grow the economy by working with innovative partners like Westco and Olymel," Premier Alward went on to say.
Representing the federal government, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and Member of Parliament for Madawaska-Restigouche, Bernard Valcourt added: "Our Government is committed to creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity in our communities across Canada. That is why we are proud to support upgrades to the Sunnymel facility. These investments will help the company to become more efficient and productive, which will in turn contribute to the economic growth of this region."
Village of Clair mayor Pierre Michaud welcomed the economic activity created by the presence of the Sunnymel plant on the municipality's territory. "For 5 years, Clair has been a real partner in this project, which is a major factor in the revitalization of our community. Sunnymel constitutes a guarantee of stability, as it enables a large number of our residents to look to a future right here in Clair with optimism," Mr. Michaud noted.
SUNNYMEL A KEY PLAYER IN THE NEW BRUNSWICK POULTRY INDUSTRY
Groupe Westco President and CEO Thomas Soucy and Olymel President and CEO Réjean Nadeau were behind the Sunnymel business partnership, formed by the two companies with equal shares to build this plant. They both took the opportunity to thank all those who, in one way or another, believed in this project and made it possible. "This plant represents five years of solid effort and hard work to bring our products from our poultry producers to market. It's a dream we saw on paper for 5 years that is now real, and provides employment to some 200 people and creates many economic benefits for suppliers and services in the region. Sunnymel is a guarantee that producers like Westco can become part of the value chain for their products and create a bond of trust with consumers. This is a great day for the poultry industry in New Brunswick," Thomas Soucy declared.
"Olymel's presence in New Brunswick through our partnership in Sunnymel translates our ambition to expand our market shares in Canada. Our partnership with Westco, one of the most dynamic poultry producers in the country, is a success factor. In the Madawaska region we have found a great home, a committed, dedicated workforce, quality products and an undeniable desire for development. We interpret the presence here today of Premier Alward, the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, the mayor of Clair and all those who accepted our invitation as a sign of confidence in what we have set out to build, and will keep alive for a long time with the invaluable assistance of our managers and employees," Olymel CEO Réjean Nadeau concluded.
AN EFFICIENT NEXT GENERATION PLANT
The Sunnymel plant uses next generation equipment and manufacturing processes, and its production efficiency is unique in the food processing industry in New Brunswick. The plant also includes the most modern facilities in order to meet the highest environmental standards, especially as regards wastewater treatment, and it strictly follows provincial standards in this area.
After starting operations gradually over the past 5 months, the plant already employs some 200 persons, represented, apart from managers, by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union-UFCW Local 503. The poultry supply comes mainly from New Brunswick, but also Nova Scotia. The Sunnymel plant operates under federal jurisdiction and under the supervision of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), and the facility is HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certified. Sunnymel has also embarked on the process of obtaining Safety Quality Food (SQF) certification, a food safety standard that is recognized internationally by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).