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Summerside egg-grading facility closing, work moving to Amherst

A sample of the types of eggs that Becky Shea and her family get from their chickens.
Contributed
Egg grading work is moving from Summerside to Amherst, N.S. - Contributed
SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. —

The egg-grading facility in Summerside is closing at the end of the week.

Michael Cummiskey, general manager of the Egg Farmers of P.E.I., said closure of the grading station was a little surprising.

"But at the same time, it is an older facility," Cummiskey said.

Maritime Pride Eggs owns the plant. Its head of operations is based in Amherst. Following the closure, Island eggs will be transported to the Amherst egg processing facility, graded and then brought back to the Island.

Mark Beal, CEO of Maritime Pride Eggs, said the decision to close the Summerside operation was something the company has been looking at for years.

"It's an older facility. Specifically, the grading machine is 25 to 30 years old. It's not as efficient as some of the new equipment, like that we have in our Amherst facility."

He said the work done in eight hours using old machinery in Summerside could be done in about 90 minutes in Amherst.

"The cost to replace the equipment is about a $1.5-million capital expenditure . . . and there's also the cost of modifying the plant."

At the peak, 11 people were employed in Summerside. The facility will close Friday. Three people have been signed to extended contracts until later in the year.

Beal said he understands the importance of bringing the eggs back to the local market.

"The farmers are our shareholders in the company. And as a farmer-owned company, we understand local means different things to different people. For example, I buy P.E.I. potatoes but I live in Nova Scotia; to me, that's a local product. And when the producers have flock rotations, P.E.I., New Brunswick and Nova Scotia supplement the provinces."

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