MONTREAL (FNS) -- Tanimura & Antle Inc., Salinas, Calif., is building a $12 million Canadian ($7.9 million U.S.) processing and distribution plant near here for value-added packaged produce to serve Eastern Canadian and U.S. retailers.
The 78,000-square-foot plant, scheduled to open in December, will produce about 1 million pounds of packaged salad and precut vegetables a week with a retail price of $1.99 ($1.31 U.S.) to $3.49 ($2.30 U.S.). The plant will rely on produce from California and Arizona, and on local produce during the summer.
Initially, 70% of the plant's production will go to Canadian customers, with the remaining 30% destined for clients in the United States, including Kroger Co., Publix Super Markets, Stop & Shop and Albertson's. Plant production will be split almost evenly between supermarket and food service customers, according to company officials.
"There will be more of an initial concentration in Canada to establish a critical mass before we turn our focus on servicing more of the Northeastern region from here," Emmitt Pfost, T&A's vice president for Montreal operations, told SN.
T&A already has supermarket clients in Canada, selling its Salad Time produce to Provigo and to Loblaw, which sells T&A products under its extremely successful President's Choice house label. The California-based company also sells to Sobey supermarkets in the Atlantic provinces, as well as to restaurants and hotel distributors.
Initial employment at the plant is expected to be 100 workers, expanding to 400 by the year 2000. The plant expects to increase production by 1 million pounds a year over the next two or three years.
"We decided to open here to be closer to our customer base," said Pfost. "Establishing a Canadian operation could help us gain new customers, because packaged salad is in its infancy stages here compared to the United States."
T&A said its main competitor in Quebec will be Saladexpress, which serves both Provigo and IGA and has annual sales of between $8 million ($5.3 million U.S.) and $10 million ($6.6 million U.S.). Saladexpress has 250 employees and operates a 100,000-square-foot plant near here.
Although there are no figures for the Candadian market, the United States bagged salad market topped $1 billion last year.