Future of Champion Petfoods still to be determined

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Champion Petfoods has plans to open up shop in Parkland County, but it is unclear what will happen with the current facility in Morinville.

The current location is about 200,000 square feet and is one of Morinville’s largest employers, with about 225 employees working at the facility.

Frank Burdzy, president of Champion Petfoods, said in an email that the company is evaluating the future of the Morinville location and how to make best use of its kitchens.

“The decision of the future use of our Morinville kitchens is very important to us,” he said.

The new Parkland County location would be the second Champion Petfoods NorthStar® Kitchens to open in Alberta. It would be about 400,000 square feet and employ about 200 people.

Burdzy said he does not expect any job loss at the Morinville location as a result of the new location opening, which is expected to begin operations in 2019.

Mayor Lisa Holmes didn’t want to speculate on what it would mean for Morinville if the facility closed. Andrew Isbister, CAO of Morinville, said discussions with Champion Pet Foods will take place in the upcoming months.

Champion Petfoods moved from Barrhead to Morinville in 1996. Champion Petfoods has won numerous awards for creating quality pet food and for being one of the top employers in Alberta.

Simon Boersma, president of Morinville and District Chamber of Commerce, said Champion Pet Foods has been instrumental within the community.

“Champion Petfoods has been a great business within our community,” he said. “It’s certainly made an impact in both schools and the local economy.”

He said it would be difficult to say what the impact would be on Morinville, if the plant was to close.

“It would depend if those people who have jobs here, if they would receive jobs at the new plant or not,” he said, adding that his viewpoint was only speculative at this point.

“It would certainly have a significant impact in our local business. Them being one of our biggest employers, it would obviously cause significant changes in employment within our community.”

He said no one has spoken specifically to whether or not the plant will close, adding that he didn’t think the company would completely move out of Morinville due to the opening of its current research centre.

In 2015 the company invested $5.9 million to add a BAFRINO Research and Innovation Centre onto the existing NorthStar® Kitchens in Morinville.

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Dayla Lahring

Dayla Lahring joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2017. She writes about business, health, general news and features. She also contributes photographs.