MarketsFarm — Operations at the Roquette pea processing plant just west of Portage la Prairie, Man. have been underway since the end of 2020, according to Michelle Finley of Roquette Canada.
The company is working toward full operation at the world’s largest pea plant by early 2022, she said.
“To date we have picked up hundreds of loads of peas from growers and we are using these peas to fine-tune and commission our processing and quality assurance systems at the plant,” Finley, the company’s communications and public affairs manager, said via email.
Construction of the 200,000-square foot facility, costing about $500 million, was completed late last year, and Roquette purchased peas to calibrate the production equipment.
“Our goal is to have consumer-ready protein available during the summer of 2021 and the plant will reach full production capacity in early 2022,” Finley said.
Ground was broken for the plant in 2017, but work was delayed for more than a year as Roquette upgraded its design, with construction resuming in October 2018.
Once operating at full capacity, the Roquette plant will be able to process about 125,000 tonnes of yellow peas per year. Also, the plant is able to process conventional and organic peas, with plans to buy 5,000 tonnes of Manitoba-grown yellow peas during the first year of operations.
Up to 120 people will be employed at the plant, Finley said.
Prices for yellow peas have been steady for about the last month, but have climbed more than $4 per bushel during over the last year, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire. Prices currently range from $9.25 to $11.25 per bushel.
Nearly 4.6 million tonnes of peas were produced in Canada in 2020, according to Statistics Canada. Of that, about 2.5 million tonnes were in Saskatchewan, with 1.8 million tonnes in Alberta, while Manitoba harvested about 246,000 tonnes.
Roquette has said it fully expects the amount of peas produced in Manitoba to increase.
— Glen Hallick reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.