EDMONTON – Cargill Meat Solutions is getting help from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) to potentially triple its beef exports to Asia by modernizing its High River plant with new technology improve its efficiency and improve food safety.

A Growing Forward grant of up to $3 million (US$2.9 million), distributed over two years, will help Cargill improve operational efficiencies at its High River plant and allow CMS to meet the changing export shipping requirements. The project includes incorporating proven technology into its warehousing system to lower the overall operating costs of the facility. The new technology will improve logistics by providing the production capabilities needed to meet export customer expectations.

"Canada is known for the quality of its beef products, and the Government of Canada is investing in innovation to increase our export markets and profitability for our beef industry," said Laurie Hawn, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defense and Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre. "[This] investment in Cargill Meat Solutions responds to world demand for high quality Canadian beef and further strengthens our position in international markets.”

“A healthy and growing export sector is critical to the success of Alberta’s livestock and meat industry,” added Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Jack Hayden. “With ALMA’s support, further modernization of the Cargill High River plant will provide a direct benefit to beef producers by increasing export opportunities to the Asian market.”

“The project, coupled with Alberta’s large volume of age-verified cattle, will result in improved logistics to export markets,” said Scott Entz, Cargill Meat Solutions general manager. “We are committed to helping increase access of Alberta beef to Asia.”

These types of investments help further the agency’s strategic priorities, said Gordon Cove, president and CEO of ALMA. “The Cargill grant is part of a roadmap for working with industry to increase our competitiveness in global markets,” he added.

Cargill’s $42-million [US$41 million] investment to modernize its High River plant demonstrates Alberta and Canada are quality locations for multinational organizations seeking to expand their Asian markets, a news release states.

Based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Cargill Limited is one of Canada’s largest agricultural merchandisers and processors, employing more than 10,000 people across Canada. Cargill Limited has business interests in meat, egg and oilseed processing, animal feed, salt, chocolate, natural gas, crop inputs, as well as grain handling, merchandising and milling.

Growing Forward is a federal-provincial-territorial initiative that better positions the agriculture industry for success. The national vision is “a profitable and innovative agriculture, agri-food and agri-products industry that seizes opportunities in responding to market demands, and contributes to the health and well-being of Canadians.”

Together, the governments of Canada and Alberta are investing $273 million (US$268 million) over five years (2009-2013) for flexible and innovative programs for Alberta’s agriculture industry. Alberta’s Growing Forward goal is a stronger value-chain that thinks locally and grows globally.