RED DEER, ALBERTA – A backlog of market-ready hogs caused by the closure of an Olymel LP pork processing plant in Red Deer prompted the company to move a substantial amount of company owned production to the United States. The shift is already underway, and the company expects the backlog to clear within four to five weeks after the plant is able to resume activities.

Olymel announced the temporary closure of the hog slaughtering, cutting and deboning plant in Red Deer after testing protocols, sanitary measures and a collaboration with Alberta Health Services failed to control another outbreak of COVID-19 among plant employees. The company did not give a date for plant operations to resume.

“The temporary shutdown of Olymel’s hog slaughtering, cutting and deboning plant in Red Deer is affecting the many Albertan hog producers, including Olymel’s company owned farms that ship market hogs to Red Deer on a weekly basis,” the company said. “The company understands the strain this has put on their operations as we estimate the backlog to be approximately 80-90,000 animals. The company has implemented several strategies to mitigate the impact as much as possible including a clear path to reducing the backlog as quickly as possible.”

The company said teams work daily in collaboration with the Alberta Public Health Services (AHS), Occupational & Health Services (OHS) and the representatives of the Union UFCW-401 to plan the resumption of activities.

“The best conditions must be met for this reopening, the priority being the health and safety of employees,” the company said.