Phyto Organix Foods Inc. is bringing a $225 million yellow pea processing facility to Strathmore, and they're meeting with local farmers this week to share their vision.

On Wednesday, June 15, Phyto is excited to meet with local farmers in their inaugural meeting to explain what they hope to achieve. Phyto Organix President and CEO Chris Theal says the relationship with local farmers will be great for both parties.

"I think the big thing for us is to introduce the company to farmers in the region. Let them know exactly what we're going to build in Strathmore and what the impact will be on the local demand for yellow peas. It's not simply a supplier relationship; I think there's a lot of value in partnership with farmers in the area," he said.

"Specifically, we're looking for 40 000 metric tons a year. It's an opportunity for farmers to own a piece of the food chain and see what their raw yellow peas convert into as a finished product."

Theal believes the new facility will really benefit local farmers, as they will have a direct relationship with Phyto Organix.

"For us, we're putting 40 000 metric tons of demand right in the heartland of pea country in Alberta.  I think the importance of the relationship is that we're going to involve a direct-to-farm relationship. From a contractual standpoint, there's no aggregator, no grain elevator, and at the end of the day, there's value there. It's economic rent, it accrues back to the farmer and not an external party."

On top of giving farmers more autonomy, the Strathmore facility expects to create 80 jobs and earn $120 million of annual GDP. Strathmore is perfectly situated to benefit from this potential economic boom, as Theal says the location is ideal for their operations. 

"What really is valuable in Strathmore is that within 75 kilometres of where we've got that pin in the map is over 200 000 metric tons a year of stable yellow pea crop output. That's 5 times our capacity. And it's important these days is that low freight cost, it's low GHG on a truck, and all that is to the benefit of everyone that's in that economic relationship."

PeasWhat the facility will produce top to bottom: protein isolate, starch, fibre, and pea hulls. Courtesy Phyto Organix Food Inc.

The yellow peas will be used to create plant proteins to create alternative meat products. Theal believes it's important to push the alternative protein market forward.

"We need to start thinking of Alberta more globally as a protein supplier in traditional meat, or alternative protein. The fact is when you look at the global population and the rate of protein demand growth, we need all forms of protein supply. so we're very much just trying to feed a growing universe."

While Phyto Organix is focused on alternative proteins, Theal says their business won't interfere with traditional cattle farmers, and that there will actually be benefits for them as well.

"There are benefits of what we're going to bring to cattle farmers in the region in terms of some of the residual product here in the form of pea hulls and the ability to put that back into cattle feed. So it very much is a beneficial outcome for all farmers in the region."

The facility is expected to open in 2024.

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