A Kitchener meat packing facility that sat empty for almost three years is now up and running, about two months ahead of schedule.
Arnold Meat Packers, located on Arnold Street, took its first test shipment of 42 cows on Tuesday and plans to eventually increase production to as much as 200 cows per day, said vice-president and co-owner Mihaela Ciuciureanu.
The plant has been certified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and plans to sell beef products to such customers as Maple Leaf Foods, Cargill Meat Solutions and Piller’s Sausages & Delicatessens, she said.
Ciuciureanu and her husband, Claudiu, purchased the 40,000-square-foot plant last fall for $1.6 million from Farm Credit Canada, the main creditor for previous owner Gencor Foods, which closed the facility in April 2008.
Arnold Meat Packers will slaughter and process cull cows, which are dairy cattle that are more than 30 months old and can no longer be milked. Previously, such cows had to be shipped to Quebec or the U.S.
The facility currently employs about 40 people, but could grow to almost 100 workers when it achieves full production. Farmers looking to supply cows to the facility should call 1-855-744-7182.
Seeing the first shipment of cows arrive at the plant on Tuesday was a big thrill for Ciuciureanu. “We’re so happy,” she said.
The couple operated a slaughterhouse and two sausage factories in their native Romania before immigrating to Canada in the early 2000s. They have spent about $500,000 renovating the Arnold Street plant to get it ready.