By Rod Nickel, Rajesh Kumar Singh and Ana Mano
WINNIPEG/CHICAGO/SAO PAULO (Reuters) – As coronavirus outbreaks among workers closed several Canadian meat plants, Henry Mizrahi saw a different future for Lesters Foods, the hot dog factory he runs in Montreal.
Mizrahi made plans to install a robotic arm capable of moving packages into larger containers for shipping, allowing workers greater distance from each other. Lesters, a small private company, is investing several million dollars in a five-year plan to increase automation.
“The way we’ve designed plants has worked up to now – now we need to make dramatic changes,” said Mizrahi, president of the 89-year-old company also known for its smoked meat.
The United States, Canada and Brazil, all major meat producers and exporters, have adopted technology at a slower pace than Northern Europe or Japan and lagged other industrial factories in automating their operations. The concentration of COVID-19 outbreaks