WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA — Richardson International Ltd. announced in October that it has acquired Innovative Foods Corp. as part of its expansion into canola-based oil, margarine and shortening products.

Richardson will employ about 60 employees from Innovative, which has manufacturing plants in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, and Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada.

Financial terms of the purchase weren't disclosed.

"The purchase of Innovative Foods allows us to continue to grow our business in the retail, food service and industrial markets," said John Haen, vice-president of Richardson Nutrition.

The Winnipeg-based company also said that with the acquisition, it becomes the only Canadian firm with manufacturing plants in Eastern and Western Canada that produce both margarine and shortening.

Earlier this year, Richardson Nutrition announced a $15-million expansion to enhance its canola packaging plant in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, to meet increasing consumer demand for healthier food products. It said it will add a $1.5-million research and development laboratory at the plant.

It also unveiled two new canola-based, low-fat products — a popping oil and a popcorn butter substitute — that were being billed as healthy alternatives to coconut oil because they contain substantially less saturated fat. Studies have found saturated fat increases the risk of plaque buildup in the arteries and heart disease.

The company said it was also developing a number of other canola-based products that are low in saturated fats, including a variety of non-hydrogenated shortenings and margarines that can be used by industrial bakeries, a shortening that can be used to deep-fry doughnuts and another shortening that can be used to make icing.