Just four months after a fire destroyed its 90,000-square-foot processing plant in northeastern Quebec, Du Breton Natural Pork broke ground on a new facility that will be one-third larger and enable the company to produce 20 percent more product. Despite pressure from local and regional politicians, instead of rebuilding in Notre-Dame-du-Lac, the company will erect its new home in Riviere-du-Loup, 40 miles away.
All that remained of the pork slaughterhouse after the May 14 fire was twisted metal, a collapsed roof and piles of charred remains. Police said welding work in a wooden building at the plant triggered the blaze. The damage was estimated at $20 million to $25 million. No one was injured, but 2,600 pigs were killed.
Du Breton, North America's largest natural and organic pork producer, hardly missed a beat during the crisis. It trucked its employees to rented space near Quebec City and managed to sustain shipments to the United States and around the world.
"We survived one of the worst possible tragedies a company can face," said General Manager Vincent Breton. "We wouldn't have risen above this without the continued support of our community and our customers."
The company decided to move to Riviere-du-Loup because Notre-Dame-du-Lac does not have sufficient potable water for the plant to process more than 3,000 pigs per week. The new facility is also closer to a major highway, thus lowering transportation costs. Production on the new plant should be completed by July 2003.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIII/number 11/p. 8