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New plant officially opens

The Richardson International Ltd. Canola plant recently opened in the Yorkton area.
THE RIBBON IS cut at the official grand opening of Richardson International's new canola processing plant just outside the city of Yorkton. Pictured above (l-r) are Glen Findlay, producer, Curt Vossen, president of Richardson International Ltd., Hartley T. Richardson, Chairman of Richardson International Ltd., Barclay Westerhaug, Reeve of the RM of Orkney, Brad Wall, Premier of Saskatchewan, Doug Petrick, Senior Vice-President, FWS, Pat Van Osch, Vice-President and General Manager, Richardson Oilseed Ltd.

The Richardson International Ltd. Canola plant recently opened in the Yorkton area. The new plant is described as a state of the art facility, capable of processing up to 2,400 metric tonnes of canola per day, and producing 1,000 metric tonnes of food grade canola oil on a daily basis.

Curt Vossen, president of Richardson International Ltd., notes that the Yorkton area is one which can see a lot of growth when it comes to Canola production, something which he says was confirmed when major competitor LDM Foods announced a similar project on the same day.

Vossen admits the fact that the first year will have some challenges, especially as the growing area struggles with excess moisture and a difficulty getting the canola crop in. However, he believes that by drawing from throughout the area the plant will be able to keep at capacity.

"The moisture issue we're having this year is unprecedented. It's bad, and it's worse in some areas than it is in others, and this area is one of the hardest hit in western Canada. But we've got origination capabilities right across the prairies, and there are areas in Alberta and Manitoba where the seeded average is much higher," Vossen says.

While this year is cursed with abnormal weather, Vossen predicts in an average year, the majority of canola processed in the plant will be drawn from within a 100 km radius of the plant.

The facility will create 65 to 70 jobs in the area, along with assorted spin-off benefits for related businesses, and more opportunities for canola producers to market their crop.

Vossen says the construction and commissioning of the facility has gone smoother than expected. While it was expected that the facility would not be at full capacity until next year, he says that it could be at full capacity now if that was necessary.

Premier Brad Wall notes that the expanded production facility will benefit the country as a whole, as it will allow canola exports to expand and the market to grow.

"This is not just about an R.M. of Orkney plant, an area of Yorkton plant, or even a Saskatchewan plant. This is very important to the country. When this plant came online, it meant that 40 per cent of canola oil production has come from Saskatchewan, and of course demand from the product has grown internationally," Wall says.

Wall notes that one advantage to having production facilities in the province is that canola seed exports to China are limited, but oil exports are not. As a result, the facility not only provides jobs, but allows for increased exports into the Chinese market.

"It solidifies Canada's position as a world leader in canola oil and canola production... This plant is maybe one of the top four in the world from what I'm hearing today. It solidifies Yorkton's position as the international centre for this," Wall says.