Pulse weekly outlook: Roquette plant now contracting organic yellow peas

Pricing to be at 'sustainable' level for growers

At capacity, Roquette’s Portage la Prairie pea plant will be able to process 125,000 tonnes of yellow peas per year. (CNW Group/Roquette)

MarketsFarm — Roquette is now contracting for conventional and organic yellow peas for its new processing plant near Portage la Prairie, Man.

After construction is finished at the end of 2020, the 200,000-square foot facility will work its way up to processing 125,000 tonnes of yellow peas per year.

“We will be receiving peas in six to eight weeks,” Dominique Baumann, CEO for Roquette in Canada, said during a news conference Wednesday.

Extensive measures continue to be taken to protect workers at the Portage plant from COVID-19, he said.

Glen Last, grain buyer for Roquette in Canada, said the company is planning to receive 5,000 tonnes of organic yellow peas from Manitoba growers in the plant’s first year of operation.

“We’re quite confident there has been very good interest from growers,” Last said, adding there are conventional growers considering a switch to organic peas.

“Acres may not meet their needs the first year, but down the road it’s certainly going to be a sustainable supply,” he said, acknowledging organic yields are about half of conventional yields.

Should the need arise, he said, yellow peas would be brought in from Saskatchewan.

Last didn’t comment on contract specifics, but said organic contracts will adhere to Canadian organic rules and traceability, while being quite similar to contracts for conventional peas. That includes growers having a choice between one- or two-year deals with incentives.

“Our pricing will be at a sustainable level to make it work for the grower as well as [Roquette],” he said, noting contract specifics would be discussed directly with interested growers.

“We are very confident the grower base is there. We have a good contact list of growers. We have had conversations with them all.”

Last also said Roquette will provide growers with supports such as agronomists, help with seed selection, crop rotation as well as with pick-up and delivery needs.

Should the demand evolve, the entire plant could be switched over to organic peas, Baumann said.

“Consumers are looking more and more for organic products,” he said.

— Glen Hallick reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.

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