Westco, Olymel get 'go-ahead' to build slaughterhouse

by Bryan Salvage
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SAINT-FRANCOIS-DE-MADAWASKA, QC — The Competition Tribunal rejected, in a decision handed down on June 9, a request by Nadeau Ferme Avicole Limitée to force Groupe Westco Inc. to deliver all the live chickens it raises to Nadeau, in spite of the absence of any contractual agreement between the parties. A news release on the ruling states the motives for the Tribunal's decision are confidential for now, but the Court plans to issue a public news release on its decision early in July after consultation with parties.

As a result of the ruling, Westco and its partner, Olymel, can proceed with plans to build a new poultry slaughterhouse in the Saint François region in New Brunswick. In March, 2008, Olymel and Westco announced the conclusion of a business partnership and agreed to pool their expertise to develop their poultry meat production, slaughtering, cutting, deboning and distribution operations for the entire Maritimes from a base in New Brunswick.

Westco and Olymel l.p. indicated they will report on the progress with the new slaughterhouse project in the next few weeks.

"We always believed in the project, which was designed from the outset to strengthen the poultry network in New Brunswick and the Maritimes, and which will benefit mainly the producers, industry workers and lastly the consumers," said Réjean Nadeau, Olymel l.p. president and chief executive officer. "The delays we have encountered have affected our determination to make a success of what represents a mutually advantageous business project and a large-scale investment to serve better our markets."

"Several months ago, we decided to invest more than $30 million to build a slaughterhouse in the region because we feel it is necessary to add slaughtering to our breeding operations if we want to continue to compete effectively and be able to offer our Canadian customers the best product at the best price," added Thomas Soucy, Westco president and c.e.o. "The Tribunal's decision will allow us to go ahead with this important project. With our new slaughterhouse, we will create approximately 250 new jobs in the North of New Brunswick, and the entire region will benefit from this investment."

The decision by the Competition Tribunal follows another decision handed down by the New Brunswick Farm Products Commission, which had rejected the requests made by Nadeau to secure exclusive rights to all chickens raised in New Brunswick. Both the Commission and the Tribunal concluded that even if Westco no longer supplied Nadeau with live chickens, it would still be able to obtain the chickens it needed to keep its slaughterhouse operating from breeders located in other provinces in particular, Nova Scotia and Quebec.

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