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Viterra To Buy Manitoba Canola Crusher

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A “cold-press” canola crushing plant in southeastern Manitoba is the latest acquisition for Canada’s largest grain company.

Viterra announced June 15 that it will buy the Associated Proteins plant at Ste. Agathe, Man., about 25 km south of Winnipeg on the west bank of the Red River, for $64 million plus “working capital.”

Unlike convention canola crushing, which uses solvents to extract as much oil as possible from the seed, cold-pressing uses only mechanical expellers, leaving a higher-oil, high-energy meal as its byproduct. The Ste. Agathe plant remains the largest of its kind in the world.

The Associated Proteins plant rose in Ste. Agathe in 1998 under the ownership of a Kincardine, Ont. company, Canadian Agra, which pledged to develop markets for its “cold press” canola oil.

Under Canadian Agra’s ownership, however, the Ste. Agathe plant was mothballed without ever getting a bottle of oil on store shelves. Ellis-Don, the general contractor for the plant’s construction, wound up as its owner, and entered a partnership with Associated Proteins in 2004 to restart production.

Associated Proteins took full ownership of the plant in 2005 and by 2006 was considering plans to double its processing capacity to 2,000 tonnes of canola per day.

Gerrand said Viterra also hasn’t yet made any decisions on whether or when to proceed with expansion, though he reiterated that the facility is “well suited” to do so.

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