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Manitoba pork exporter sets sights on expanding Asian trade success

(left to right) Grant Lazaruk, HyLife CEO, Don Janzen, Board Chairman, Denis Vielfaure, Executive COO, and Claude Vielfaure, President.


Turning a $500,000 investment into a $750-million business that exports Canada’s largest amount of pork to Japan isn’t something HyLife could have done without having access to international trade.

Claude Vielfaure and his brothers bought their father’s farm in 1980 for $250,000. Add to that a second $250,000 farm and its owner, Don Janzen, and you’ve got the recipe for a global enterprise.

The business—named HyLife as a nod to the high-quality pork it produces—is headquartered in the small southeastern Manitoba community of La Broquerie, but its reach is vast.

Over 25 years, the company has grown from 20 employees to 2,200 and expanded its hog-producing operation to include processing plants in both Canada and Mexico. With pork in high demand around the world, HyLife turned to global markets for new business.

Today, the company exports 85 percent of its pork, including some $300-million worth every year to Japan, its largest customer. More than 3,000 stores in Japan carry HyLife pork that is carefully shipped overseas at just below 1°C to keep it fresh without freezing and diminishing its quality.

The company’s success in markets like Japan will only increase with tariffs lowered under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), says company president Claude Vielfaure.

“As a business, we have confidence that we can continue to grow because of the trade agreement. It’s so important to our industry.”

Free trade agreements like the CPTPP open up new markets around the world for companies like HyLife. The CPTPP has already cleared the way for HyLife to export pork to Vietnam, and the company is looking at ways to make this happen quickly.

“Opening doors to other countries is very important because things change around the world all the time,” says Vielfaure.

HyLife will continue to take advantage of Canada’s trade agreements to get its high-quality pork to dinner tables around the world.

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