Quality Through Innovation
~ By Cheryl Long
Adding a healthy dose of innovation to a recipe founded on hard work and family traditions has been the secret to success for one of Canada’s flourishing hog producers.
Since the early days when Fulgence Menard purchased his father’s feed mill in Ange-Gardien, Quebec in 1961, F. Menard has evolved and grown to become a leader in the field of pork production. Today, the family-owned business has approximately 1,000 employees, more than 200 associate producers in Quebec and Eastern Ontario, and customers in 50 countries worldwide. Now run by Fulgence’s sons Pierre, Francois and Luc, F. Menard continues to look to the future through expansion, investment and improvements across the company.
The company’s General Manager, Luc Menard, worked his way up through the business, first helping the farm’s manager at age 12 and then taking on full-time work at 15. Along the way, he learned all facets of the company ranging from feed production, breeding and technical advice to management positions that eventually led to his current role. “After working for 38 years, my responsibilities now consist of defining future strategies and overseeing the growth of the company,” he explained.
Vertical integration for all stages of pork production
Menard is a vertically integrated business, which allows them to be involved in all stages of pork production. They have a hand in genetics, livestock breeding, feed, transport, biosecurity and processing, and everything comes full circle with a strong commitment to research and development supported by an annual investment of $500,000.
“We have our own R&D service, which annually conducts many tests in all divisions of the company to ensure we remain competitive and maintain the very best product quality,” Luc explained.
Each year, F. Menard processes more than one million pigs in one of Canada’s most advanced cutting and processing plants. Because they process for international distribution, F. Menard prides itself on the company’s ability to adapt to their customers’ different needs and demands based on regulatory requirements. That adaptability can be traced in part to a commitment to several core priorities: research and development, biosecurity, animal welfare and sustainable development.
Research and development is the umbrella under which F. Menard dedicates time and resources to genetic testing, feeding programs, animal husbandry and slaughtering processes. They attribute their meat quality to the premium feed they use, attention paid to animal welfare in all facets of the business, and the humane methods incorporated into both the production and slaughtering processes.
Farm owners play a key role
At the grower level, F. Menard has found success in partnering with a network of producers who are farm owners capable of maintaining a high level of operations. Like their employees, many of F. Menard’s producers have been working in collaboration with the company for 30 years or more. Producers are supplied with piglets and pigs, feed and medications, and any technical and veterinary assistance, and each must comply with animal welfare standards under the Canadian Quality Assurance program (CQA). F. Menard also oversees the distribution of feed and the transport of the animals, using handling methods designed to maximize animal comfort.
Many of their practices are aimed at reducing both water consumption and their carbon footprint. Windbreaks limit odours emitted by their farms, water-saving bowls and water metres monitor usage and new farms are located in areas screened by wooded terrain. Their state-of-the-art processing plant uses only biodegradable products, recycles where possible and utilizes waste-free production methods. One of their key achievements is the ability to trace their products through all steps of the process. Each part of production, from reproduction and fattening to slaughter and butchery, takes a structured and rigorously controlled approach.
Menard holds numerous certifications, including Porc Europe, HACCP, Canadian Quality Assurance (CQA), Transport Quality Assurance (TQA), Certified Livestock Transporter (CLT) and PAACO, the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization. In addition, they’ve received numerous awards with one of the most recent coming from Canada’s Best Managed Companies program for 2014. This was the first year that F. Menard made the prestigious list of 50 companies, and is symbolic of their continued commitment to their industry and the extended family that supports the F. Menard brand. The award recognizes the company’s solid business model, their rigorous management of resources in order to maintain growth, a strong focus on innovation and the various initiatives they’ve taken in optimizing their infrastructure.
One of the company’s greatest strengths comes from the wealth of experience that their employees bring to the workplace. “We greatly value their unique know-how and skills and would not have achieved our present position without their valuable contributions,” Luc said. “Many of our employees have been with us for more than 30 years!”
$14 million invested in new processing plant
The company’s Agromex division oversees the slaughter and meat-cutting plant, which processes about 15 percent of Quebec’s total hog production annually. The company invested $14 million into the plant last year, which allowed them to expand departments, add new equipment and increase production capacity for products destined for international markets.
The grain division, a rigorously managed transport services program, and their highly-skilled research division round out the company’s operations. Finally, the company-owned retail butcher shops provide customers with an opportunity to buy directly from the farmer, a concept that is growing in popularity among consumers concerned about the sources of their food.
Commitment to quality, innovation and long-standing traditions will serve F. Menard as they look to the future. Long-term plans include expanding their processing capacity, continually improving animal welfare in their breeding facilities and ongoing progress in environmental protection. Becoming “best in the world” is within their sights.
To learn more about F. Menard, visit www.fmenard.com.
OUR PROUD SPONSOR: