Brazilian food giant JBS to manage Alberta's XL Foods plant

Brazilian meat processing giant JBS is set to begin managing the XL Foods beef plant in Brooks, Alta., which has been closed since Sept. 27, when beef tainted with E. coli bacteria prompted the largest recall in Canadian history.

JBS will also have the opportunity to buy the Canadian and U.S. operations of XL Foods for $50 million, plus another $50 million in shares, reports Reuters.

Adding XL Foods to its operations would be just the latest in a series of aquisitions for JBS, which has become the world’s largest meat company.

Just how big is the company? According to its website, Brazilian parent company JBS SA owns no fewer than:

  • 12 meat brands (including fresh and processed chicken, lamb, beef and pork)
  • 8 dairy brands
  • 1 brand each of: leather, canning, collagen, biodiesel, shipping
  • 2 vegetable brands

JBS operates in 21 countries including: Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Australia, the USA, Uruguay, Paraguay, Mexico, China and Russia.

In the United States, JBS USA processes under the brands:

Having an international giant take over a Canadian-run company is bittersweet, vice-chairman of Alberta Beef Producers Dave Solverson told the Edmonton Journal.

“This is good news for our industry, but I have mixed feelings because XL foods was a dynamic Canadian company run by some guys who I know were really trying hard,” Solverson told the Edmonton Journal. “When the recalls moved from ground beef to muscle cuts (steaks, roasts and ribs), it was unprecedented. I don’t think they could come back from that.”

A change in management may also be good news for the 2,000 employees at XL Foods, who remain without work as the plant is closed.