(Adds interview with executive)
WINNIPEG, Manitoba, April 26 (Reuters) - Private agribusiness Viterra Inc said on Monday that it will build the world’s biggest canola-crushing plant at Regina, Saskatchewan, and open it in late 2024, as interest in turning oilseeds into renewable fuel stokes already strong demand.
Rivals Cargill Inc and Richardson International also announced plans recently to build plants in the same Canadian province, with canola futures hitting record highs. U.S. soybean-crushing capacity is also increasing.
Rotterdam-based Viterra said its new plant will crush up to 2.5 million tonnes of canola per year, eclipsing Richardson’s plan.
Viterra, owned by commodity trader Glencore PLC, and Canadian pension managers CPP Investments and British Columbia Investment Management Corp, did not disclose the plant’s cost.
Canada is the biggest global producer and exporter of canola, a variant of rapeseed, that crushers process into oil and meal. Canola oil is used in salad dressings and other foods, and refiners plan to also produce renewable diesel, a clean-burning fuel, from it.
“We continue to feel there will be added demand on top of food, with increased fuel demand,” said Kyle Jeworski, chief executive officer of Viterra’s North America operations, in an interview. “Our intent is to service both markets.”
Viterra has no plans to produce renewable diesel from its own canola oil, he said.
Canola meal is part of feed rations for hogs and fish.
Plans for more crush plants in Saskatchewan underline questions about supply. Canola plantings have levelled off in recent years.
Jeworski expects plantings to increase, adding that developers are producing better seeds to increase yields.
“Our western Canadian farmers are somewhat underappreciated in terms of the sophistication in technology and improvements in agronomic practices that they continually undertake - that bodes very well for projects such as this,” he said.
Viterra operates smaller canola crush plants in Quebec, Manitoba and Washington state. (Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg. Editing by Mark Potter and Marguerita Choy)