Bunge is showing its confidence in southern Manitoba canola growers.

The company announced plans yesterday to more than double production at its canola processing plant in Altona. Production capacity will be increased from 1100 to around 2500 metric tonnes per day.

"We've very excited about that," says plant manager Fred Dueck. "It's a tremendous vote of confidence for the team here at the plant in Altona and the community...it's very well-noticed within the Bunge organization how strongly the community supports the plant."

 "We're excited to help grow the regional ag business because this is going to make a big difference to growers," he says.

"We have been running at capacity and we realize there's a lot of canola being grown in this area that we're not able to process. We're excited to provide a larger outlet for the canola that's already here."

Details on when construction will start are expected by the end of the year, although the company is hoping the expansion will be online in time to process the 2012 crop.

Dueck says they're not yet sure how many jobs will be created. The company will be purchasing several additional lots in the Altona Industrial Park to accommodate the expansion.

In the big picture, Dueck says Bunge believes the long-term future of canola processing is strong. "One of the questions that has come out from our shareholders is 'why is Bunge expanding when crush margins have been poor in Canada?' The response is the long term outlook for canola processing is strong. Global oil consumption continues to grow at a steady rate. Trends in North America and around the world toward oil with a better nutritional profile make canola an attractive product."

Rick Watson, country manager for Bunge's Canadian operations, explains, from Altona they can efficiently serve most of their oil packaging plants and the major food manufacturers, as well as transport canola meal to key dairy states in the upper Midwest. The company says the expansion will make the plant one of the most efficient crush plants in Canada.

The facility in Altona is still on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's import alert list after canola meal shipments tested positive for salmonella in 2009.

~ Wednesday, October 13, 2010 ~