Two years is long enough, but boy the canola tide has sure turned since early 2019.
In May 2019 the Canadian canola industry — canola growers, buyers and processors — was wringing its hands trying to figure out where to market the Canadian canola crop after China put a freeze on imports that affected about 40 per cent of Canadian canola production.
Fast forward to May 2021, and the Rod Nickel and Arunima Kumar at the Reuters news desk in Winnipeg report that Ceres Global Ag Corp — with a grain handling facility at Northgate, SK — is the latest player to announce plans for a major canola crushing facility in Western Canada.
If the Ceres and all other projects go forward collectively they will increase canola crushing capacity by about five million tonnes, which roughly translates into five to six million more acres… so keep growing canola.
The Minneapolis-based Ceres Global said Tuesday it will build a $350 million canola-crushing facility near its Northgate facility, with capacity to crush up to 1.1 million tonnes of canola annually and produce 500,000 tonnes of canola oil, for both food and fuel uses. It will open in 2024.
Located in southern Saskatchewan, adjacent to the North Dakota border, the Ceres’ plant will be far enough away from Saskatchewan competitors for it to source two-thirds of the plant’s canola from Canada, with the remaining one-third expected mainly from North Dakota farmers.
The Ceres plant will directly connect to BNSF Railway Co. that will allow it a faster path than other Canadian facilities to ship canola oil to U.S. refiners and canola meal to California and New Mexico, where ranchers and feedlots feed it to cattle, says Robert Day, Ceres chief executive.
In Glacier Farm Media published reports earlier this year, the Ceres announcement follows on the heals or three other grain handlers who are building new or increasing capacity for canola crushing on the Prairies.
Grain handler and processor Viterra announced earlier it is in the “feasibility” stage of designing and finalizing plans for what it bills as the “world’s largest integrated canola crush facility” in the northeast of Regina, about seven km from its downtown head office.
Construction would begin in early 2022, toward a late 2024 startup producing fully-refined vegetable oils for food-grade and biodiesel-grade end-users, the company said.
The Viterra plant’s targeted crush capacity, initially, would be 2.5 million tonnes of canola per year.
That figure would put it ahead of Winnipeg rival Richardson International’s plans to expand production at its existing canola plant at Yorkton, Sask., about 185 km northeast of Regina. Richardson says that expansion to be completed by early 2024, will bring the Yorkton plant’s annual capacity to about 2.2 million tonnes.
CARGILL IN ALBERTA AND SASKATCHEWAN
And earlier, the Canadian arm of agrifood firm Cargill announced plans for its own canola crush plant in the Regina area, for completion in early 2024. Cargill also pledged upgrades for its own existing crush plants at Camrose, Alta. and Clavet, Sask.
Sean Pratt in late April in the Western Producer reported that Cargill intends to break ground on its $350 million plant in the Regina area in early 2022.
“Regina fits really well with our footprint,” said Cargill Canada president Jeff Vassart.
That footprint is made up of existing plants in Clavet, Sask., and Camrose, Alta. The Clavet plant can process 1.5 million tonnes of seed annually, while the Camrose facility consumes one million tonnes.
Regina’s rail, road and utilities infrastructure and skilled workforce made it a logical place to build.
The Cargill Regina plant will be similar in design to its Camrose facility. It will have the capacity to process one million tonnes of canola annually when it is commissioned.
The Regina investment represents a natural progression for the company. The Clavet plant opened in 1996 and was expanded in 2009. The Camrose plant was commissioned in 2015.
The canola drawing area for the new plant is expected to include farms in southern Saskatchewan and southwest Manitoba.
Those oilseed sector announcements also follow Federated Co-operatives’ (FCL) decision earlier this month to buy the assets of biodiesel processor True North.
Lee Hart is a field editor with Grainews based in Calgary. Contact him at 403-815- 3719 or by email at [email protected]