Agrifood firm Richardson International plans to put up $15 million for expanded storage and warehousing and $1.5 million for research at its canola oil plant in southern Alberta.
The Winnipeg firm on Wednesday said its expansion at Lethbridge would boost the size of its packaging plant by 40 per cent, adding 33,000 square feet of warehouse space and bulk canola oil storage.
The expansion will also include full automation of the plant’s oil receiving and blending process, the company said. It will also include environmental upgrades such as “green” packaging to reduce the amount of cardboard used.
Business has “increased dramatically due to unprecedented customer demand for healthier food products,” John Haen, vice-president of the company’s Richardson Nutrition division, said in a release.
Legislation governing the levels of trans fats in foods in both Canada and the U.S., plus “the lack of functional trans fat compliant products,” has led to increased demand for “innovative new products,” the company said.
To that end, Richardson said it’s made a “significant investment” in research and development over the last year and a half on new canola-based oil, non-hydrogenated margarine and shortening products for food processing, bakery, foodservice and retail markets.
The company said Wednesday it has budgeted $1.5 million for a new lab facility and pilot plant at its Lethbridge plant to continue such R+D work.
Richardson Nutrition, formerly known as Canbra Foods, makes and packages various store-brand oils as well as its own Canola Harvest brand goods for the retail, foodservice and industrial food processing sectors.
The company’s packaging business operates in tandem with its canola crushing plant at Lethbridge, which can process about 400,000 tonnes of canola per year.