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PepsiCo closes the last Spitz sunflower seed processing plant in Alberta

PepsiCo closes the last Spitz sunflower seed processing plant in Alberta

Company moves production to a facility in the U.S.

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter

An Alberta sunflower processing facility synonymous with a Canadian agribusiness will close later this year.

PepsiCo, which owns the Spitz sunflower seed plant in Bow Island, Alta, is moving production to an American plant.

“This was a business decision based on an extensive evaluation of the long-term viability of this site and its ability to meet our increasing volume requirements for the brand, which will continue to play an important role in our North American portfolio,” PepsiCo said in a statement on Friday, according to Global News.

The Bow Island closure will put about 53 people out of work.

The impacted employees could receive “financial support, access to financial counselling and job placement services,” the company said.

But the plant’s closure doesn’t automatically put pressure on Canada’s sunflower seed producers.

Farmers produced 58,000 tonnes of this crop in 2017, according to Statistics Canada.

Canada exports more than half of its sunflower seeds, with about 80 per cent heading to the U.S., according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

And farmers should still be able to sell their harvests locally and abroad, said Darcelle Graham, executive director of the National Sunflower Association of Canada.

“There certainly are other buyers for sunflower producers,” she told today. “What PepsiCo and Spitz were able to offer was a product that was going to be roasted. There are other markets for confection sunflowers as well. They can be de-hulled and used in a bakery product.”

Sunflower acreage has been on the decline across Canada since 2015.

Producers seeded more than 40,000 acres of sunflowers in 2015, according to Statistics Canada. That number fell to about 28,000 acres in 2016 and fell again to about 26,000 acres in 2017.

Graham expects the 2018 sunflower acreage to stay around the 26,000-acre mark, she said.

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