Maple Leaf to idle Canada hog plant 1 day/month over pig shortage

Tue May 27, 2014 4:13pm EDT
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba May 27 (Reuters) - Canadian pork processor Maple Leaf Foods said on Tuesday it will idle production at its Brandon, Manitoba hog plant one day per month during the next five months as it grapples with a shortage of pigs.

North American hog supplies have run thin since last year's detection of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) in the United States, where it has killed about 7 million piglets.

The virus has also spread slowly into several Canadian provinces, including Manitoba, without the same high mortality rates as in the United States.

Maple Leaf will idle production at the Brandon plant, its largest fresh pork facility, one day per month from May to September, spokesman Dave Bauer said in an email. Along with managing tighter supplies, the off days will allow the company to more easily perform upgrades to the plant, he said.

"Simply put, there are less hog producers in the market producing less hogs than a few years ago, which is affecting many industry participants," Bauer said, adding that Maple Leaf is not planning to reduce staff.

Tyson Inc, the United States' largest meat processor, told Reuters last week that it will reduce hog slaughter and pork production levels more than usual during the July through September period, when pig supplies are expected to be lowest. (Reporting by Rod Nickel; Editing by Richard Chang)