Expansion at Richardson International's canola plant in eastern Saskatchewan is expected to crank up its processing capacity by 25 per cent by the end of next year.
The privately-held Winnipeg agrifood firm's Richardson Oilseed arm on Wednesday announced expansion work will start this fall at the two-year-old plant at Yorkton, Sask.
The project is expected to increase the plant's processing capacity to 3,000 tonnes per day, from its current peak rate of 2,400.
That translates to annual demand of over a million tonnes of canola per year, up from the plant's current annual capacity of 840,000 tonnes, the company said.
The work is expected to be completed by "late 2013," the company said.
"Canola growers are responding well to the increase in demand by seeding record acres of canola for the last five years," Pat Van Osch, the oilseed division's general manager, said in a release.
Given Richardson's grain handling network on the Prairies, the company is "in an excellent position to expand our footprint at Yorkton and increase processing capacity to keep up with increasing global demand for canola oil," he said.
Van Osch cited strong demand for canola from "domestic and international food markets, which is being driven by growing consumer interest in healthier food products and biodiesel mandates."
The canola processing industry overall has boosted capacity by over 70 per cent in the last two years to keep up with increasing demand for canola oil, the company said.
The expansion would put the Richardson plant's canola capacity well ahead of the like-sized crush plant built at Yorkton at about the same time, a joint venture between French commodity firm Louis Dreyfus and Japanese trading firm Mitsui.
Richardson's grain handling and sourcing network is also poised to expand substantially if it gets the regulatory approvals to buy 19 Prairie elevators now owned by Canada's top handler, Viterra.
That $900 million-plus deal, announced in March, would also give Richardson added port presence at Vancouver and Thunder Bay, plus Viterra's oat processing business.
It would buy those assets from Swiss commodity firm Glencore, now working toward a $6.1 billion friendly takeover of Viterra.
Richardson's Prairie grain handle would rival Glencore's,
March 20, 2012