Maple Leaf Foods officials say they will not be selling its Burlington, Ont., pork-processing plant until the economic conditions and credit markets change course.

According to company officials there have been "active negotiations" with several prospective buyers, but proceeding with any sale is unlikely before early 2010.

"Current economic conditions and credit markets have created a less than ideal environment to sell any business," said Michael Vels, Maple Leaf chief financial officer, in a statement. "There is no immediate urgency to selling the Burlington business." He pointed out that it's an efficient and profitable business, and the company wants to ensure the offer recognizes the appropriate value of the business and meets shareholders' expectations."

Maple Leaf officials decided back in October 2006 to sell the Burlington facility. The emphasis at the time was to refocus the company's growth in value-added meat, meals and bakery businesses. That strategic move involved the divestiture or exit of several of its primary processing and other operations.

"The Burlington sale remains an important element of Maple Leaf's protein business transformation," company officials said.

Maple Leaf employs 24,000 people in Canada and the United States. It's 2008 sales were reported as $5.2 billion.