Plans to build a pasta processing plant in Regina are still alive, according to the head of Saskatchewan-based AGT Food and Ingredients (formerly Alliance Grain Traders.)
The company’s purchase of West Central Road & Rail for $22 million this spring moves AGT closer to building the facility first announced back in 2011, said Murad Al-Katib at Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina last week.
“The West Central Road and Rail acquisition will allow us to originate durum into a bulk rail-handling system and be in a position where we’re starting to solidify that supply chain and to become very active in the Canadian durum market,” he explains in the video below, noting AGT has grown into one of the largest pasta millers in the world, processing 1,600 tonnes of durum per day — mainly in Turkey. (continued…)
Durum wheat used to make pasta accounted for the majority of grain handled by West Central Road & Rail, with its five producer car loading sites at Dinsmore, Beechy, Easton, Laporte and Lucky Lake. Al-Katib says most of the durum sourced through these facilities will be exported to Turkey, but they’re still planning to build processing capacity closer to home.
“We’re origin based processors. We’ve been vocal about our desire to build durum wheat milling to go along with our pulses. We have our eye on that end-game,” he says.
The Canada-EU trade deal could help the company move in that direction, as he expects it will create export opportunities for Canadian pasta.
“Canada could become a very competitive place to produce pasta, in particular for the European market, so we’re excited about that.”
The announcement of the $50 million pasta plant in October of 2011, attended by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, was celebrated by open market proponents as an example of the value-added opportunities spurred by the end of the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly.