SPRING BAY – One of the new owners of the Manitoulin abattoir, George McGaffin of Limestone Island Abattoir, joined Birgit Martin of the Manitoulin Island Community Abattoir to fill in members of the Manitoulin Cattlemen’s Association on plans going forward with the facility.
“It’s business as usual,” advised Ms. Martin, who is winding down her involvement with the facility in favour of concentrating on her own farming. “Just keep using it as you have been.”
Ms. Martin noted that having the abattoir facilities on Manitoulin means that “everyone can benefit.”
“We are going to run it whether you use it or not,” said Mr. McGaffin, noting that his company is currently building its own brand in the industry (hence the Limestone Island Abattoir name—the company’s other operations are located in Prince Edward County’s similar geology), “but we want to encourage you to use the facility.”
“Not that long ago you could buy Manitoulin lamb in New York City at the best white cloth restaurants,” he said, but added that as an industry, “we lost focus.”
Mr. McGaffin noted that his business partner, Jamie Stronach, has recently established a chain of high-end grocery outlets across southern Ontario and he encouraged Island producers to leverage that connection to help establish their own premium brands. “Jump on board,” he said. “We are accessible.”
Mr. McGaffin said plans are in play to expand the abattoir facility to include a cutting floor so the product can be cut and wrapped instead of simply being a kill facility—an important piece of the brand building and distribution strategy going forward.
The company is also working towards building a federal facility in southern Ontario. Currently, that project has the federal government onside and is only facing challenges in getting up and running from the municipality (in Prince Edward County), he maintained. Mr. McGaffin did not specify the exact nature of those challenges.