‘Increasing our capacity will significantly drive the growth of Leadbetter bacon products and reduce COVID-19 workplace risks,’ says company official
Provincial funding will help a local meat processing facility bring home the bacon.
Leadbetter Foods Inc. is getting a $ 100,000 grant – as part of a $ 22-million province-wide investment through the Agri-Tech Innovation Program – to help the company streamline its production process at its Orillia facility.
“This innovation cost-share program supported the implementation of advanced and innovative robotics technology, through a $ 100,000 grant. Leadbetter Foods will be investing $ 500,000 in robotic automated bacon packaging systems, ”said Doug Alexander, VP technical services for Leadbetter Foods Inc.
“Increasing our capacity will significantly drive the growth of Leadbetter bacon products and reduce COVID-19 workplace risks,” said Alexander, noting the project will be implemented in the fall of 2022.
“The province’s support for Leadbetter Foods ensures the continued job creation and growth of a Canadian-owned meat processing company and a major industrial employer in the City of Orillia.”
Jill Dunlop, MPP for Simcoe North, announced the funding during a recent visit and tour of the company’s processing plant on Hughes Road.
“Agri-Food Innovation supports the modernization of workplaces by funding projects to implement advanced or innovative technology,” Dunlop said in a news release.
“This program makes it possible for leaders in technology and business, like Leadbetter Foods Inc. in Orillia, to work on priority issues such as labor productivity and develop new solutions to challenges they face, “Dunlop added.
Across Ontario, the investment aims to support the adoption of new advanced technology that improves the productivity of farmers and agri-food processing businesses, address the labor shortage, and support the long-term sustainability and growth of the sector.
“Adapting innovation and technology is key to the success of our agri-food sector,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “This is why we’re investing in innovations that will build a stronger, more resilient sector for years to come. From research to farm production, to food processing, adopting new technologies will help strengthen our food supply chain, create new market opportunities and strengthens the economy. ”
Examples of projects across the province that are adopting new technology include:
- A self-driving tractor that includes data collection, will decrease use of chemical sprays, contact between farm workers, and deter from traditional methods of bird damage prevention.
- An automated color sorting machine for the grading and sorting of soybeans, which eliminates manual processing, labor challenges and reliance on global suppliers.
- An automated turkey packaging processor and further processing lines, which will reduce employee risk of exposure to COVID-19, workplace-related, injuries and address shortages in the meat processing sector.