Maple Leaf Foods Inc. is warning of more job cuts and price rises for meat,
animal feed and possibly bakery products to cover the increased cost of wheat
and corn caused by the demand for ethanol.
The food processor announced yesterday a fourth-quarter
loss of $11.6 million, from a year-ago profit of $18.2 million, after $44.9
million in restructuring charges and other costs.
The major exporter, already reeling from
annual losses of about $100 million caused by the strong Canadian dollar, has
been grappling with rising grain prices. These increase the price of meat
production, making consumer price increases in bakery and meat products
inevitable, CEO Michael McCain said.
The company has recently gone
through a restructuring, including facility closures, and has streamlined its
management, marketing and information technology structure to cut costs in a bid
to cover the currency gap.
The company started off on a rough note in
2006, but has been steadily fighting its way out of the currency conversion
"hole" caused by a high Canadian dollar, McCain said.
Sales for the
quarter were $1.5 billion. For the year, profit fell to $4.5 million, down from
$94.2 million a year ago.
Maple Leaf Foods
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