U.S. organic grain firm buys Saskatchewan elevators

Gull Lake Grain Corp.’s elevator is now the property of U.S. startup Pipeline Foods. (GullLakeSK.ca)

A Minneapolis-based startup focused on non-GMO and organic grains has bought itself elevator space to source those crops out of southern Saskatchewan.

Pipeline Foods on Wednesday announced it has bought small elevators at Wapella, about 130 km south of Yorkton, and at Gull Lake, about 50 km southwest of Swift Current, for an undisclosed sum.

Both elevators are on Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) track and in communities on the Trans-Canada Highway for “inbound and outbound truck and rail convenience,” the company said in a release.

Set up earlier this year with backing from players including New York agribusiness investment firm Amerra Capital Management, Pipeline said it plans to store, screen and blend grains including barley, corn, rye, flax, lentils, oats, peas, soybeans and wheat at the two elevators for shipment by truck or rail.

For Wapella, Pipeline said its purchase will include installation of a main line rail switch to reconnect the elevator to CP track after being out of service for over 15 years.

“We are very excited to have Pipeline Foods take over the elevator in Wapella, and about the return of trains rolling through town to pick up grain cars,” Wapella Mayor Sandy Hintz said in Pipeline’s release.

At Gull Lake, where the company bought its facility in August from the local Gull Lake Grain Corp., Mayor Blake Campbell said he “recently had an opportunity to tour the Pipeline Foods facility and was impressed with the current operations and planned upgrades.”

The Wapella and Gull Lake facilities, which have capacity to handle 3,500 and 4,000 tonnes of grain respectively, are now also certified organic through Pro-Cert, Pipeline said, noting it plans “initial capital investments” this year to increase capacity at both sites.

For 2018, Pipeline said, the two elevators are each expected to move about 25,000 tonnes of grain. The company said it’s now “actively buying all classes of organic wheat, pulses and oats.”

“Our expansion through these two facilities will enable Pipeline Foods to cultivate closer relationships with producers, ensure a clean and transparent supply, and ultimately offer better value for our customers,” Pipeline CEO Eric Jackson said in the company’s release.

“The Wapella and Gull Lake grain elevators place us right in the heart of Canadian organic grain production, provide a new channel for farmers to do business, and allow us to connect this grain supply with food companies and manufacturers across the U.S.”

Overall, Pipeline said, it’s also “pursuing opportunities” to invest $300 million to $500 million over the next three to five years “to build a better, more sustainable supply chain in agriculture.”

On its website, Pipeline said it already has over 40 staff in North and South America, including those at its Minneapolis office, the two Saskatchewan elevators and new regional offices in Winnipeg and Buenos Aires.

Going forward, the company said it plans to invest in “assets to support growth in organic and non-GMO grains, provide professional expertise to farmers and food companies, and partner with like-minded individuals and organizations.” — AGCanada.com Network

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