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Shur-Gain Announces Consolidation of its South Western Ontario Mill Operations

St. Marys, ON – October 23,
– Shur-Gain, a division of Maple Leaf Foods Inc., today
announced the consolidation of its mill operations in South Western Ontario
after reaching an agreement with Orford Co-operatives to lease its Highgate
property as a grain elevator. As a result, the Company will be closing its
Highgate mill effective January 9, 2004 and transferring production to its
other facilities in the region.

“The consolidation of our mill
operations will allow us to achieve better overall plant efficiencies and
utilize the enhanced food safety protocols at our HACCP-compliant facilities
that best meet the needs of our customers across South Western Ontario,” said
Jerry Vergeer, President, Shur-Gain.

The closure of the Highgate mill
will affect 14 employees. Transitioning the 14 employees affected into
new employment is a priority for Shur-Gain, which may include positions at its
St. Marys facilities or at other Maple Leaf Foods operations. Employees who do
not find employment within the Company will receive severance packages and
benefits exceeding legislative requirements in addition to counseling services.

Shur-Gain will continue to
maintain a strong local presence in South Western Ontario, servicing its
existing customer base from St. Marys and through its franchised dealer
network. The products currently manufactured at the Highgate mill, will
be transitioned to Shur-Gain’s other HACCP-compliant facilities, which utilize
the latest in leading edge safety controls to deliver on Shur-Gain’s commitment
to food safety and quality assurance. As part of the agreement with
Orford Co-operative, Shur-Gain’s grain bank program will remain intact and, in
fact, will offer expanded geographical coverage through Orford’s other
facilities across South Western Ontario.

Maple Leaf Foods Inc. is a leading Canadian
food processing company committed to delivering quality food products to
consumers around the world. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, the company
employs more than 18,000 people at its operations across Canada and in the
United States, Europe and Asia. Maple Leaf Foods had sales of $5.1
billion in 2002.