USA- Canadian grain handler and merchandiser Richardson International is investing US$220m in modernizing its Wesson Oil facility in the US state of Tennessee.

The agri-food processor said the new plant, which will also be in Memphis, will significantly increase production and refining capacity as international demand for vegetable oil keeps rising. 

The  James Richardson & Sons Limited-owned company originates and processes Canadian-grown grains and oilseeds, as well as oats and canola-based products. 

It bought Wesson in 2018 from US food manufacturer Conagra Brands. That deal came after US competition officials opposed the sale of the Wesson assets to another US group, J.M. Smucker.

The facility currently produces the Wesson oil brand for retail customers as well as other frying blends and shortenings for industrial and food service clients.

The Wesson Oil facility in Memphis provides Richardson with a strong retail brand and a great location supported by a very dedicated team of employees,” Tobias Dewey, vice president of oilseed operations at Richardson, said. 

Additionally, improved efficiencies will drive substantial reductions in water, energy, and wastewater volumes, aligning well with Richardson’s focus on responsible and sustainable business operations. 

Collectively, these elements provided the confidence to support meaningful investment and innovation in the Memphis plant’s operations – including significantly expanding our industrial and food service offerings. We are excited that this plan will soon become fully realized,” Dewey added. 

Jason Medawar, Senior Director, Operations, Memphis, commented that there is a holistic aspect to what Richardson International does, considering employees, the plant, and the local community. 

This latest announcement underscores our commitment to business sustainability to best-in-class facilities and our team at Memphis. It also underscores a broader commitment to Shelby County, the city of Memphis, and the state of Tennessee,” Medawar added. 

The project in Memphis follows investment in Richardson’s oilseed processing network, including at sites in the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.

We seek opportunities for enhancing our capabilities and providing an increasingly efficient means for meeting the needs of our food ingredient customers and a broader consumptive marketplace,” Darrell Sobkow, EVP of processing, food, and ingredients at Richardson, said.

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