WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Maple Leaf Foods is gradually increasing the rate of production and packaging at its Winnipeg plant, where a fire caused water and smoke damage last week, the company said on Monday.

Packaging lines are running at about 50 percent of their normal rate and production more slowly than that, said Lynda Kuhn, senior vice-president of communications at Maple Leaf.

It's going to be picking up through the course of the week.

The fire last Wednesday evening temporarily idled production of prepared meats. The plant's ham-boning section was not affected.

Maple Leaf shares eased 4 Canadian cents, or 0.4 percent, to C$11.22 in Toronto early on Monday.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel; editing by Rob Wilson)