WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA — Richardson International Limited is investing C$15 million to expand and enhance its canola oil processing plant in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, to meet increasing customer demand for healthier food products, the company announced on Jan. 26.

Richardson will increase the size of its canola packaging plant in Lethbridge by 40%, adding 33,000 square feet with increased warehouse space and bulk oil storage. The project will also increase efficiencies by fully automating the oil receiving and blending process.

"Our business overall has increased dramatically due to unprecedented customer demand for healthier food products," said John Haen, vice-president, Richardson Nutrition. "By increasing the footprint of our Lethbridge plant and automating the way we do business, we will be able to better serve our customers' needs today and into the future."

Trans fat legislation in Canada and the U.S. and the lack of functional trans fat compliant products have contributed to the increase in demand for innovative new products. Richardson has made a significant investment in research and development over the last 18 months to develop new canola-based oil, non-hydrogenated margarine and shortening products for the food processing, bakery, food service and retail markets. In addition to the expansion project at Lethbridge, Richardson will open a new C$1.5 million lab facility and pilot plant at the Lethbridge facility to continue research and development work.

"With a state-of-the-art plant, a brand new lab focused on research and development and expanded processing and packaging capabilities, Richardson is well positioned to develop and deliver new canola-based products to our customers around the world," said Haen.

Following Richardson's strong commitment to health and safety, the expansion project will ensure the highest quality management standards are in place. New automated systems and improved technology will increase both food quality and safety management systems. Environmental upgrades, such as green packaging to reduce the amount of cardboard, will also improve the company's ability to provide innovative solutions to meet customer needs.