A new packaging line helps take poultry processor from frozen to fresh success
Keeping things cool has always come naturally to Central Bernard Inc. as part of the job.
Located in the Lachine area of Montreal, the 50-year-old poultry processor offers a high-quality air-chilled fresh poultry line of products designed to cater to the needs of the most quality-demanding customers through its flagship Continental Grill retail brand, a no-name generic brand, and various value-added private label formats.
Despite the company’s current success in providing superior quality fresh chicken cuts, it wasn’t quite the vision its founder Theodore Dedes had planned back in 1962.
“My father founded Central Bernard on Bernard Street in Montreal as a small butcher shop,” company president Billy Dedes told Canadian Packaging magazine in a recent interview. “He was a testament to the notion that hard work, quality meats and fair pricing was a great way to grow a business.”
After establishing a promising customer base, Central Bernard eventually began servicing restaurants and wholesale customers with poultry, beef, pork and other meats, before narrowing its focus to just poultry processing and packaging for the retail market.
On the Move
After four expansions and three moves, Central Bernard nowadays supplies poultry-based product to most major retail food chains in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
“Even with the shift in meat product offered and growth of the business, Central Bernard has always maintained our father’s reputation by providing our customers with the highest-quality at the best possible price, and we have built on that with our uncompromising and personalized customer service,” notes Billy, who along with his brother and vice-president of operations, George, have literally grown up in the meat industry.
Situated within a state-of-the-art 50,000-square-foot HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points)-certified facility since December of 2003, Central Bernard runs a one-shift, five-days-per-week schedule for 130 employees who help process some 150,000 kilograms of poultry each week in many varied tray-pack sizes.
“Our plant is designed to efficiently process more than 45,000 kilos of tray-packed product in one shift,” says Billy. “This plant is among the top-producing value-added poultry processing plants in Canada.”
The temperature-controlled plant environment is ideally suited for the safe manipulation of poultry products, according to the Dedes brothers.
“Our facility houses a full-time inspector from the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) and meets or exceeds all food safety protocols and standards,” says Billy, adding that all third-party audits performed by main customers regularly confirm the impeccable quality of the plant’s environment.
With food safety a key issue for the food processor, Central Bernard is also currently working towards a GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) certification for SQF (Safe Quality Food) approval.
Because Central Bernard is a federally-approved poultry processing plant, all products coming in and going out are logged, monitored and tested.
“We ensure that everything—from the initial visual product inspection, the measuring of bacteria counts and the growing of cultures, to the inspection of the outgoing product—is continually monitored,” states Billy.
“Staff training is always an ongoing process, since the importance of hygiene and proper meat handling procedures must always be promoted.”