Legumex Walker Inc. (TSX: LWP) (the "Company") today announced the Pacific Coast Canola (PCC) oilseed processing facility in Warden, Washington commenced production and completed its first sale and shipment of canola oil and meal during the final week of December 2012.
"We are thrilled to have the PCC facility in service producing super-degummed expeller-pressed canola oil and canola meal so quickly, and ahead of schedule," said Joel Horn, President and Chief Executive Officer, Legumex Walker Inc. "We were able to move from commissioning of the core processing equipment to production and shipping of super degummed oil faster than anticipated. Moreover, we are achieving continuous throughput levels well in excess of our initial targets for the startup period and the quality of the initial oil we are producing is better than expected at this stage. We are now focused on ramping up production to our capacity to crush 1,100 metric tonnes (MT) per day of canola seed which will yield approximately 400 MT per day of refined, bleached and deodorized oil - the highest grade of canola oil - which we expect to achieve in the first half of this year."
Mr. Horn added, "The addition of the canola processing is a transformational milestone in the evolution of our Company, significantly increasing the scale of our operations and further diversifying our business into higher margin products. We are confident in the long-term fundamentals of the canola oil market. With our new facility in service, we have a tremendous asset, backed by an exceptional management and operations team, to capitalize on the expected growth in demand for canola oil, as well as our unique advantage as the first commercial scale canola processing operation west of the Rocky Mountains."
"The operating team at PCC may have set a new record for the amount of time to transition from commissioning to production," said Greg Waranica, Sales Manager Oils & Fats for Crown Iron Works Company, the world's leading oilseed processing technology firm and the provider of the Preparation, Pressing and Extraction processes. "They were able to produce salable oil and meal in 36 hours from the time canola starting running through the expellers. We are very impressed with the quality of the facility and team."
Demand for canola oil is expected to grow significantly over the long term as food processors respond to consumer preferences for healthier oils and government bans on trans fat oils. Growth is expected to be especially pronounced in the United States, where canola oil comprises just 10% of the edible oil market compared to 70% in Canada. From 2005 to 2011, growth in canola oil consumption in the U.S. grew more than 80%.
"The completion of the PCC facility in Warden is a milestone for production agriculture in the Pacific Northwest," said, Matt Upmeyer, General Manager, Pacific Coast Canola, LLC. "PCC is the only large-scale canola crusher in the region and provides a reliable terminal market for canola growers in the area. The benefits of growing canola as a rotation crop are proven. We are committed to helping growers maximize these benefits by providing a consistent market for their canola. We look forward to working with grain dealers and their growers to increase canola acres in the area."