Manitoba begins consultations on new sustainable protein strategy

Mickey Dumont

The Portage Citizen
While Manitoba Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler announced at Manitoba Ag DaysMManitoba Ag Days a provincial initiative to develop a first-of-its-kind sustainable protein strategy, Roquette Canada representatives were presenting a progress report to Portage la Prairie Rotarians.

Speaking at the Rotary Club regular meeting, Roquette’s Human Resources Director – Canada Anumeha Baldner and Adam Todd Logistics Director – Canada, made a presentation to the Rotary Club that outlined Roquette’s plant protein research and how the plant here will put Portage la Prairie on the map.

Unofficially, Baldner and Todd said when the plant will open in late 2020, its Portage la Prairie operation will be state-of-the-art and one-of-a-kind.

The initiative Minister Ralph Eichler’s announced at Brandon is a government strategy to ensure Manitoba producers are well positioned to remain leaders in plant and animal protein development in the face of increased global demand.
“With world demand continuing to grow for high-quality protein, Manitoba producers have an exciting opportunity to feature their products in an increasingly global market,” said Eichler.  “Our strategy will seek to grow livestock herds for animal protein and new acres for plant protein while ensuring our province remains a strong environment for investment and that our government is attuned to the needs of producers.”

A question during the Portage la Prairie Rotary luncheon spurred Todd to explain Roquette is contracting pea acreage in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and fully intends to process pea protein with product grown as close to the plant as possible.
The minister’s announcement said key priorities of the strategy are increasing livestock processing, ensuring that pig supply matches processing capabilities, increasing the beef-breeding herd, continuing to develop the sheep industry, new investments in new plant protein extraction, and positioning Manitoba as a leading research and development centre in North America for plant protein extraction technology.
The strategy will also maintain the Manitoba government’s focus on creating an environment for and attracting investment while supporting research and innovation and reducing red tape that hampers the growth and development of the agriculture industry.
Livestock production and processing are both significant contributors to Manitoba’s economy.  In 2017, livestock farm-cash receipts were $2.2 billion, while processing accounted for $1.8 billion and an estimated 4,500 jobs, said the minister.
The protein strategy is the first sector strategy under the recently announced Economic Growth Action Plan, Eichler said.  In their report, Growing Manitoba’s Economy, co-chairs Dave Angus and Barb Gamey recommended development of targeted sector strategies as a priority to foster competitiveness, facilitate growth, identify investment opportunities and address economic barriers in the province.
The consultation paper, Manitoba Protein Advantage, will be available on Feb. 1 at www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture, with extensive consultations to follow.  The final strategy will be presented at the Manitoba Protein Summit in September, the minister added.

With Roquette selecting Portage la Prairie as the site for its nearly half-billion-dollar plant, the city, RM and province are poised to become a major player not only in the manufacture of plant protein but attractive to other wet industry.

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