Canola processing plants are increasingly dotting the map of the United States.
The latest facility to start processing seed is the Legumex Walker Inc. plant in Warden, Washington.
The company is preparing to handle commercial volumes of canola in the first quarter of 2013.
“We are thrilled that our team is now operating the facility,” said company president Joel Horn in a Dec. 27 news release.
“We are still on track to put the plant in service for commercial production on or ahead of schedule.”
Pacific Coast Canola is expected to process 379,500 tonnes of canola annually once the plant is at full capacity. It is expected to produce 142,500 tonnes of oil and 227,000 tonnes of meal annually.
It is the second new canola crush facility to begin operations in the United States in the last five months. Northstar Agri-Industries opened a similar-sized plant near Hallock, Minnesota, in August.
Northstar announced in October that it intends to build a second plant in Enid, Oklahoma. The proposed facility would have the capacity to process 760,000 tonnes annually. Construction is expected to be completed before the 2015 harvest.
Other operators of U.S. canola crushing plants include ADM Agri-Industries Ltd., Bunge Oils and Producers Cooperative Oil Mill.
Keith Peltier, director of the Northern Canola Growers Association, said canola “has some legs” south of the border due to the health attributes of the oil.
Growers produced a record 1.13 million tonnes of canola in 2012, up 61 percent over the previous year due to a replanting of acres in North Dakota that were flooded out in 2011.
“Canola had a good year in terms of acreage last year. I think we’ll be hard-pressed to duplicate that because last year was not a good production year in terms of yield,” said Peltier.
The national average yield was 1,430 pounds per acre, down from 1,713 in 2010 and 1,811 in 2009, the two years prior to the flood year.
Peltier anticipates acreage may shrink by about 20 percent.
In a document accompanying its third quarter 2012 results, Legumex Walker said trans-fat bans in places like New York city, Philadelphia and California have shifted demand to canola oil from hydrogenated soy oil.
Informa Economics estimates U.S. canola oil consumption increased 47 percent to 1.9 billion kilograms annually between 2010 and 2012.
That increased demand is prompting more canola planting and processing south of the border.
Legumex Walker’s Warden plant, the only commercial scale canola crusher west of the Rocky Mountains, is located near many of the largest potato processors and canola oil users in the U.S. It is also well positioned to service food processors along the West Coast.