A grain company is expanding its business on P.E.I. to supply split peas and pearl barley to global markets.
It’s all part of Chris Chivilo’s plan to move his company, W.A. Grain and Pulse Solutions and New Leaf Essentials (East) Ltd., into producing value-added products and away from commodity-based trading.
Chivilo is investing in new equipment to dehull barley and peas for grocery shelves and pet food manufacturers.
“We already know we can sell out our capacity for pearl barley with demand right now,” he said at a funding announcement Friday, Feb. 15 in Slemon Park.
Chivilo’s Island facility is located in the former Humpty Dumpty plant on Slemon Park Drive.
It already employs 12 staff and will add at least one more person to the roster when the new equipment is up and going.
It will ideally process around 4,000 tonnes each of peas and barley at full capacity.
All the grains and legumes processed in the plant will come from Island farmers.
Chivilo has put $10 million into the new plant so far and sees long-term potential on the Island. He someday hopes to have up to 50 people working in Summerside.
“They need crops here to help soil health and soil conservation as well as good rotational crops for potatoes," he said. "Peas and pulse crops in general fit that bill.”
W.A. Gains and Pulse Solutions is based in Alberta where Chivilo has three plants, with an additional three in Saskatchewan. They process mostly pulses like lentils, chick peas and fava beans, which are shipped to more than 40 countries.
His foray east has been positive so far, he said.
“We have lots of challenges in our business, so it’s nice to know you’ve got partners here to help you,” he said of the support from government and Slemon Park Corporation.
P.E.I. Industry Minister Chris Palmer said the current $10-million plant is just a third of the planned investment.
Palmer said it’s the Island’s hard-working people that have kept businesses coming to the area.
“Standard Aero is a really good example in my opinion. We can do world-class work from Summerside," he said. "I think it’s our hustle as Islanders. We can go and get things done and we’re really good at it.”
During the New Leaf announcement, both federal and provincial officials also announced more taxpayer funds for Standard Aero in the form of a loan to upgrade test cell equipment.
The province will be providing a $39,213 grant as well as a 25 per cent rebate on salaries for future hires at Chivilo’s company, while the Government of Canada and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) are providing a repayable contribution of $630,500.
Slemon Park Corporation will use a combined $1 million in loans from ACOA and the province to upgrade one of the four test cells used by Standard Aero.