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Roquette: Pea Production Drops, Prices Rise After Drought

Due to an unprecedented drought across the prairies, the Roquette pea processing plants have seen a squeeze in raw materials available, which could lead to higher prices in plant-based products.

Compared to last year, Canada has seen a drop of 45 per cent in pea production while pea prices have gone up by 120 per cent. Executive Vice President of Roquette Jeremy Burks explains what impact a shortage of peas will have on the Portage la Prairie plant.

"We're here for the long term, so we recognize there's this year's issue on pea supply, but for the long term, we think we've made a good decision. We're in the right place, and we're certainly here at the right time.
The market is terrific."

According to global category specialist for Roquette, Derek MacLean, Europe is seeing similar conditions to Canada, but to a lesser extent. Canada is also the world's largest exporter of peas.

"The quality of the product of this year, both Manitoba and Saskatchewan producers have been great," says MacLean "The only small difference from year to year is the seed size has been a little bit smaller."

Pea protein is an essential ingredient in many new plant-based products, and the sector is dealing with the consequences of this shortage of peas, which will inevitably lead to costs being transferred to customers.

MacLean adds the company doesn't expect to see a jump on growing peas, noting acres will be "much more than flat."

Roquette employs over 8,600 employees worldwide and serves over 5,000 customers. When the plant runs at maximum capacity, it will produce 125,000 metric tonnes of peas.

"Well, prices on peas are at historical highs. So at the end of the day, their revenue per acre is going to go up. With the increase in prices, the producers are starting to look at next year's crop, and peas are becoming a part of the conversation. So, I think it's going to be great for the province of Manitoba."

Currently, workers at Roquette are testing and calibrating their equipment for full production next year.

"The plan is to start up the factory this year and ramp it up progressively to full capacity (in 2022)," says Burks. "On a big unit like this, you don't switch it on, and suddenly, it's immediately at capacity. You have to ramp it up over a series of several months, but we will be on track to do that."

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