France's Roquette counts on expanding Canada's pea output

Fri Jan 20, 2017 12:11pm EST
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - France's Roquette, which is building the world's largest pea protein plant in Manitoba, is counting on the province's farmers to boost their production to supply the C$400 million ($300 million) factory, the company said on Friday.

Roquette raised eyebrows this week when it said it would build the plant in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, rather than Saskatchewan, which grows 14 times more peas.

The plant would consume the equivalent of nearly all of Manitoba's current pea production.

Family-owned Roquette picked Manitoba for reasons that include transportation links and access to hydroelectric power, said spokeswoman Carole Petitjean.

"We are confident that, in good collaboration with local farmers, local production in Manitoba will increase substantially in the next five years," she said in an email. Petitjean did not say how much Roquette expects Manitoba pea production to grow but said the plant would process more than 100,000 tonnes of the crop annually once it opens in 2019.

Roquette will also rely on neighboring Saskatchewan, Petitjean said.

The Manitoba plant will help meet fast-growing demand for vegetable protein in food and pharmaceutical products. Pea protein, extracted from yellow peas, is used in nutrition bars, soups, sauces, pasta, biscuits and meat alternatives.

Canada is the world's biggest pea producer.   Continued...