The Burgin family expects to soon start processing cattle at TruHarvest Meats as soon as March 1, with the goal of eventually harvesting 1,600 head of cattle per week.
TruHarvest will be using the site of the former Ryding Regency company in Toronto. Ryding Regency’s licence was suspended by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency due to issues with E. coli contamination in September 2019.
Why it matters: Ontario’s beef sector has been chronically short of processing capacity, especially since the loss of the processing capacity of Ryding Regency.
Eugen Burgin and his family run Eusi Farms, a beef operation, so the facility will be producer owned.
It will be federally inspected and has been approved by the CFIA.
“TruHarvest Meats is committed to helping secure the Ontario food supply and to supporting local farmers,” the company said in a release.
The company expects to employ about 220 people and will be one of the largest “true ritual harvesting” facilities in Canada, able to produce Kosher and Halal beef and veal.
The company will initially focus on distribution in central Canada, but plans to expand into specialized markets through export.
Tony Chaffe, Tru Harvest Meats livestock procurement manager, said the Ryding Regency closure hit Ontario producers hard, but he is optimistic the industry will support Tru Harvest Meats.
“I'm optimistic on my end. There wasn't one producer in Ontario that wasn't paid (when Ryding Regency was closed),” he said. “So I think everybody should be confident in coming back to us.”
Chaffe said Burgin is a high-volume beef producer which should add a level of producer-insight the industry has, on the whole, lacked.
“He's doing it, not just for himself, he's doing it for the industry to try and make it better,” Chaffe said.
Burgin is no stranger to hard work and taking chances. He immigrated from Switzerland nearly three decades ago. Burgin started Eusi Farms Ltd, now one of the leading beef operations in Ontario.
“Our commitment as a producer-owned operation is to support the Ontario beef industry,” he said in the release. "Both the Burgin family and the management team at TruHarvest Meats are proud and excited to be starting such an important and vital venture at such a remarkable time.”
To that end, Burgin said he is committed to local programs, such as Ontario Corn Fed Beef, and offering value-added programs including no added hormones and antibiotic-free cattle.
Chaffe says Tru Harvest Meats will offer competitive pricing and follow a similar procurement style of Ryding Regency with him reaching out to producers and vice-versa.
Chaffe has fielded several inquires since his Twitter post saying the facility will be up and running in March, adding farm visits are lining up, and former clients are calling.
“Our commitment as a producer-owned operation is to support the Ontario beef industry.
Producers wishing to sell finished cattle should contact Tony Chaffe at 519-955-3286.