Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Prairie pulse plant prospers

Legumex Walker Inc. invests in equipment

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CANOLA and specialty-crops processor Legumex Walker Inc. plans to spend about two million dollars this year on new equipment for three of its processing plants.

The Winnipeg-based firm's chief executive officer told the company's annual shareholders' meeting Wednesday about $1.5 million will be spent on equipment for two of its processing plants in southern Saskatchewan. And the remaining $500,000 will be spent on additional equipment for one of its five processing facilities in southern Manitoba.

Joel Horn wouldn't say in a later interview which plants will be getting the new equipment.

He said the upgrades will enable the three plants -- two in its peas and lentils division and the other in its sunflower and flax division -- to boost production to meet a growing demand for its products.

Legumex Walker, which was formed in July 2011 with the merger of Roy Legumex of St. Jean Baptiste and Walker Seeds of Tisdale, Sask., is one of Canada's largest pulse and specialty-crops processors.

The company owns and operates 14 processing plants in Canada, the United States and China. It also owns an 85 per cent interest in Pacific Coast Canada LLC, which recently completed construction of the first commercial-scale canola-oilseed processing plant west of the Rocky Mountains, at Warden, Wash.

Horn said the company was still focused on expanding its processing empire in 2013, completing three new acquisitions over the course of the year. However, this year's focus is on getting the most earnings and efficiencies it can out of the plants it already owns.

Horn wouldn't rule out doing another acquisition this year if the right opportunity comes along.

"But it's got to be pretty good."

The company earlier reported a $6.9-million loss for the first quarter of this year. But Horn said the earnings picture will improve once the Washington plant begins production, likely in the third quarter of this year.

Legumex Walker's shares (TSX: LWP) closed Wednesday down 17 cents to $4.40.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 20, 2013 B8

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