Firm eager to ride the ‘canola train’ with carinata

Agrisoma has USDA approval to sell the meal in the U.S. and European Union and will begin contracting acres next year

Agrisoma has the approvals it needs to proceed with commercializing a new oilseed crop for Western Canada.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given Agrisoma regulatory approval to sell carinata meal in that market.

The same data package submitted to the FDA was used to secure European Union approval for the meal, and that is the real big development, said company president Steve Fabijanski.

Europe is a massive market for feed. It currently uses rapeseed meal as well as imported soy and canola meal.

“There is an opportunity there to put carinata meal into the mix as a non-GMO meal product,” he said.

Canada was the first market to approve carinata meal, but that was done as an add-on to an earlier mustard meal approval.

Carinata matches canola meal specifications in the recent U.S. and European approvals, which means it can be used at better inclusion rates.

Agrisoma contracted 50,000 acres of carinata around the world last year, with most of that seeded in South America.

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It is grown as a second crop there following soybeans during the winter season. There are not a lot of food crops produced in the winter, so it can sidestep the food versus fuel debate.

The company is also targeting the southeastern United States and the northern Plains, which includes the southern Canadian Prairies. It would like to see equal production in all three regions.

There is no carinata being grown in Western Canada outside of demonstration trials.

The company was starting to build momentum in the Prairies in 2012 when it contracted 6,600 acres with more than 40 growers across Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The following year it signed an agreement with Paterson Grain to manage carinata production with growers and the subsequent processing and sale of the product.

Paterson was hoping to contract 30,000 acres in 2013. That didn’t happen because of delays in getting Canadian regulatory approval for the meal.

Two years later, Agrisoma targeted 50,000 acres of production in Western Canada. Once again, that didn’t happen because of regulatory issues.

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The company wanted to contract North American acres in 2017, but it had to wait for U.S. regulatory approval for the meal, and everything was pushed back.

Fabijanski said the groundwork is finally there for true expansion next year.

“I know that people are really waiting for the breakout on this, but it takes a while,” he said.

Agrisoma is hoping for 50,000 to 70,000 acres of production in Sask-atchewan, Alberta, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana next year.

The crop is being processed in Europe, where an undisclosed biofuel manufacturer is using the oil to make renewable diesel. There is no dedicated crush facility. Instead, it is being batch processed by plants that usually work with rapeseed and soybeans.

Agrisoma is marketing the oil and meal’s sustainability aspect. The crop has a low carbon footprint because it is better at sourcing nitrogen than other crops, produces a large amount of biomass that is incorporated back in the soil and has high oil content of 45 percent.

Western Canada is the next target for expansion. Fabijanski said he wants to revive a bit of the “canola train” that used to head to Europe before it was derailed by concerns over genetic modification.

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