Canada: Chai Kosher sells to Halal meat processor

chickensTORONTO – Chai Kosher Poultry has sold its rights to purchase live chickens in Ontario to halal chicken processor Sargent Farms in Milton.

Charles Weinberg, CEO, Chai Kosher Poultry, told the Jewish Tribune that, contrary to rumours that are swirling around the community, he has not sold his business or the land; rather, on May 3 the business will close and he will go into retirement.

He clarified that he had “sold basically a small asset of the company and that’s it. Everything else is being shut down.”

Kevin Thompson, CEO, Sargent Farms, confirmed that the asset to which Weinberg referred was similar to a quota, which allows a processor to purchase a certain number of live chickens from farmers.

Sargent Farms has purchased “the access to a supply of chicken that Chai formerly had,” said Thompson. “That’s what we bought; that’s what was transferred from Chai to us: the opportunity to purchase a certain amount of live chicken from farmers.”

The number of live chickens an Ontario processor may purchase from farmers is set by Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO), according to Michael Edmonds, director of communications for CFO. This amount is the processor’s “calculated base.” A processor cannot ask the CFO to increase its calculated base, so if it wants to buy more live chickens, it has to purchase another processor’s calculated base on the open market, Edmonds explained.

Thompson refused to disclose the financial value of the transaction between Chai Kosher Poultry and Sargent Farms. He also declined to comment on the percentage by which this purchase had increased Sargent Farms’s calculated base but, when asked if it was significant, he responded, “For sure.”

Chai Kosher Poultry was the only kosher chicken processor in Ontario, Edmonds said.

Sargent Farms supplies halal chickens to both foodservice and retail establishments within Ontario, according to Thompson.

Weinberg said he had tried to sell his business for the past five years but the only offer he had received was from “my competition in Montreal,” which he described as “an invalid offer.”

He said he wouldn’t go into detail about the reasons for his decision but added, “I know what I’ve done to the community, unfortunately.”

He said Ontario consumers would have to turn to Marvid Poultry in Quebec for kosher chickens.

“There won’t be a shortage and there won’t be a price increase [in Ontario],” said Moishe Friedman, owner of Marvid Poultry. “In a short period of time, we will be able to supply the Toronto area with all their needs without any major changes.”