New grain export terminal opens in Quebec

Sollio’s new terminal is expected to ship one million tonnes of Canadian grain to overseas markets in 2021 and 1.3 million tonnes in 2022. | Facebook/Sollio Agriculture photo

Sollio Agriculture, which runs elevators in Quebec and Ontario, is expected to move mainly grain grown in Eastern Canada

Canada’s largest agricultural co-operative has opened a grain export terminal at the Port of Quebec.

Sollio Agriculture, a division of Sollio Cooperative Group, announced that its new terminal is now fully operational.

The terminal is expected to ship one million tonnes of Canadian grain to overseas markets in 2021 and 1.3 million tonnes in 2022.

“Sollio Agriculture’s grain export terminal is instrumental in getting our high-quality grains to international markets,” federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said in a news release.

The company has more than 1,200 employees and generated $2.76 billion in sales in 2020. It operates about a dozen grain elevators and distribution centres in Quebec and Ontario in addition to a handful of commercial sales offices in those provinces.

Mark Hemmes, president of Quorum Corp., doubts the new export terminal will handle much grain out of Western Canada.

“They’re a Quebec-centric company,” he said.

“It’s entirely feasible that they’re going to originate all their product locally.”

Hemmes said that all depends on their marketing network. It is possible that the company has relationships with some smaller, stand-alone western Canadian grain companies.

Sollio representatives were not available for comment in time for this publication’s deadline.

Even if the company sourced a few hundred thousand tonnes of grain from Western Canada, that would be a drop in the bucket, considering the Port of Vancouver will likely handle about 30 million tonnes of western Canadian grain in 2020-21.

But it is still a positive development for Canada’s agriculture sector in general.

“Any time they build capacity it’s always a good thing because it’s just making us a stronger contender in global markets,” said Hemmes.

Sollio said the terminal will service markets in Europe, Central America and the Middle East. It will be supplied with grain by ships from the Great Lakes as well as by road and rail.

The western Canadian pulse and special crops industry has customers in all of those markets and ships a lot of product through ports in Eastern Canada.

But the Sollio facility is a bulk-loading terminal.

“It is possible in the future that bulk pulses being sent off the East Coast could make use of the terminal,” Pulse Canada spokesperson Jeff English said in an email.

“That said, nearly all pulse traffic off the East Coast is containerized.”

Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Western Grain Elevator Association, said the prairie elevator network he represents ships grain through their own terminals.

Most grain moves through west coast ports, although a number of WGEA member companies also own terminals in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Viterra has an export terminal in Montreal and Richardson has terminals in Hamilton, Ont. and Sorel, Que.

So there is a substantial volume of western Canadian grain heading out of east coast ports but it is unlikely that WGEA member companies will use the terminal of a competing grain company, said Sobkowich.

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