Can-Oat Milling, a subsidiary of Canada’s largest grain company Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, yesterday (13 December) announced plans to invest a projected CN$12m into expanding the Portage la Prairie processing plant in Manitoba.

Work is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2006, with completion expected approximately 14 months later.

The expansion will considerably increase the plant’s ability to process malting barley and oats into value-added products. The addition of primary processing capacity, flaking capacity, high-speed bagging line, on-site storage and in-house workspace will allow the plant to process a further 50,000 metric tonnes of oats, increasing its total milling capacity to more than 340,000 metric tonnes each year. When the plant is complete, Can-Oat anticipates processing 1.4m pounds of finished oat ingredients each day.

The plant is currently running at or near full capacity seven days a week, explained Karl Gerrand, Can-Oat president. “The expansion will allow us to address the growing needs of out existing customers and competitively position ourselves to take advantage of the increased growth we are seeing in the consumption of whole grain oat-based products in the consumer market,” he said.

The company also intends to invest CN$1.7m over the next ten months in the development of new biomass fired boiler technology. This will enable Can-Oat to burn waste oat hulls, which will substitute a meaningful proportion of its current natural gas requirements generating projected annual savings of more than 60%.