HAMILTON, Ontario – Maple Leaf Foods Inc. intends to boost its production of low-sodium deli meat product through an investment of C$5 million (US$4.46 million) from the Canadian government.

Canada's leading value-added meat processor will put the funding toward a fully automated system developed by Armor Inox, according to a news release. The new processing equipment will include built-in features to enable product traceability. Maple Leaf said the system is also expected to improve the shape, texture, consistency and shelf-life of deli meat products while reducing sodium content. Armor Inox, developer of the Thermix system, is a manufacturer cooking and chilling solutions for processing and handling ham and ready meals.

"Innovation continues to be a priority for our government, and making strategic investments like this in one of Canada's largest food processors will boost the competiveness of the meat sector and create employment opportunities for years to come," said Parliamentary Secretary Pierre Lemieux.

The new system will be installed atMaple Leaf Foods' processing plant in Hamilton, Ontario. Upon completion, the plant will have the capacity to produce 82 million kg. of deli products annually.

"We are building the most advanced prepared meats facility in North America. The AgriInnovation Program has helped us secure world-class technology that will improve our efficiency and support high skilled, knowledge-based jobs in Canada's food industry," said Rick Young, executive vice president of Transformation at Maple Leaf Foods.

Maple Leaf Foods is Canada's largest processor of value-added meat, meals, and baked goods. Based in Toronto, Ontario, the company employs approximately 19,500 workers in Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia.