JBS USA said that Van Solkema, who was president of sales and operation for XL Foods from 2004 to 2009, had been appointed as president of JBS Canada with immediate effect.
Van Solkema, who most recently worked as a consultant for XL Fine Foods, has also held senior management positions at plants owned by Cargill and Canada Packers. He has served on the board of directors at the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association Market Development Council, the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency, the Canada Beef Export Federation, and the Canadian Meat Council (CMC), and was CMC president in 2004.
As president of JBS Canada, Van Solkema will oversee operations at the troubled XL Lakeside plant in Brooks, Alberta, which was at the centre of the E.coli crisis in the US earlier this year. JBS USA announced an agreement with XL Foods to manage the facility in October, with an "exclusive option" to purchase the plant alongside other XL Foods facilities. The company said it was still considering this option.
Bill Rupp, president and chief operating officer at JBS USA’s beef business unit, said: "I personally worked alongside Willie at the High River plant and have complete confidence in his ability to manage our operations at the Brooks facility in Alberta. He will prove to be an invaluable asset as we normalise operations at Brooks for both domestic and international markets and continue to explore our exclusive option to purchase additional XL properties in Canada and the US."