Maple Leaf Foods, Toronto said it expects this May to consolidate its further processed poultry operations into its Brantford and Mississauga, Ontario, facilities "where there is available capacity and opportunities for future growth."

"We have an immediate opportunity to increase efficiency and capacity utilization in our value-added poultry business, which this consolidation will achieve," said Michael H. McCain, President and CEO, Maple Leaf Foods. "Value-added chicken is an important market for us and we plan to grow the business by focusing our operations and investments in our Mississauga and Brantford plants."

Officials said the move includes fully cooked, partially cooked or marinated frozen chicken products prepared for retail and foodservice customers. It excludes Maple Leaf's refrigerated prepared chicken products such as deli meat and meal solutions.

Maple Leaf will transfer production from its 42,000-square-foot facility in Ayr, Ont., and close the plant in May 2012. Meanwhile, Maple Leaf said it invest $6.5 million willin Mississauga and Brantford to support the production transfers. Officials noted that the company will incur approximately $5.6 million in restructuring costs (before taxes), of which approximately $4.2 million are cash costs.

Maple Leaf said investments in the Mississauga facility will create approximately 75 new hourly and salaried positions. Closure of the Ayr plant will result in a net reduction of approximately 100 positions. In addition to working notice, affected employees will receive severance packages, as well as outplacement and counselling assistance, and will be encouraged to apply for other positions across Maple Leaf Foods.

Maple Leaf said it also will work with all levels of government and community leaders to seek to find alternate, non-competing uses for the facility that would leverage the skill base of the workforce and reduce the impact of the closure.

"We deeply regret the impact on our people. We will treat them fairly and support them through this transition to secure new employment, either within Maple Leaf or in the broader economy," said McCain.

Maple Leaf Foods is a leading Canadian value-added meat, meals and bakery company. It employs approximately 21,000 people at its operations across Canada and in the United States, Europe and Asia.