Packers interested in big Canada hog farm hurt by feed costs

Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:35pm EDT
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Two Canadian pork processors are among those expressing interest in Canada's second-biggest hog producer, Big Sky Farms, which is looking for new ownership after soaring feed costs left it unable to pay its bills.

Big Sky, which produces about 1 million pigs per year and is based near Humboldt, Saskatchewan, entered receivership in early September. Manitoba-based hog producer Puratone Corporation is also up for sale, after entering court protection from creditors last month.

Both Toronto-based Maple Leaf Foods (MFI.TO: Quote) and Quebec-based Olymel L.P. are sizing up Big Sky, said Kevin Brennan, senior vice-president at Ernst & Young, the receiver for Big Sky. Big Sky is already a supplier to those companies' hog plants.

Some packers outside Canada are also interested, he said.

"There's a great deal of interest in terms of buying Big Sky," said Brennan, adding that Big Sky is for sale as a whole, not in pieces.

"They take a long-term view of the industry itself, and if there's a concentration of producers going out of business it provides opportunity for others to grow."

Maple Leaf spokesman Dave Bauer said it's premature to comment on any specific opportunities the company may have.

"We are evaluating several options that would secure our longer term hog supply," he said.   Continued...