Prairie flax processor to rebuild, in South Dakota

The owner of a major flaxseed processing plant in western Manitoba plans to rebuild the burned business and keep sourcing Prairie flax — but will do so from a new location in the States.

Glanbia Nutritionals Ingredients Technologies (GNIT), a Wisconsin-based U.S. wing of Irish food processing firm Glanbia, announced Tuesday it will build a new 40,000-square foot cereal ingredient processing plant at Sioux Falls, S.D., for startup in July 2013.

The South Dakota facility is meant to replace the Glanbia Nutritionals plant at Angusville, Man., about 120 km southeast of Yorkton, Sask.

The Angusville plant was destroyed in mid-March by fire, which the provincial fire commissioner’s office ruled accidental, saying it appeared to be caused by flax meal overheating in a pasteurizing unit. Damages were estimated at over $7 million.

"After years in Angusville, this was a very difficult decision, given our longstanding relationship with the community," GNIT CEO Jerry O’Dea said in a release. "We spoke to our employees (Tuesday) and will look to retain as many as we can through an offer of relocation to Sioux Falls."

Severances will be offered to those staff unable to relocate, he said.

Glanbia had considered "all options" including rebuilding in Manitoba, O’Dea said, but found the Sioux Falls option to be "the best decision for our customers, suppliers and company."

O’Dea was cited in an Associated Press report Tuesday as saying Sioux Falls was picked for its proximity to flax-growing regions, its transportation infrastructure, its "convenience and support from state and local leaders."

The new plant is expected to produce whole and milled flaxseed ingredients as well as "other seed and grain products" for the food, beverage, supplement and animal nutrition sectors, GNIT said.

To that end, GNIT said it "will continue to source flaxseed from Saskatchewan, Manitoba and northern U.S. states as before."

The Angusville site was a family-run operation known as Pizzey’s Milling until Glanbia bought the business in 2007.

Glanbia would later expand its offerings of flax-based ingredients for the food, beverage and supplement markets, touting its antioxidant properties, its high levels of ALA-Omega 3 and its protein and fibre content.

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