Proposed soybean processing plant could bring 100 jobs, new technology to Sarnia

Artist concept of the soybean processing plant. NPG Image

Cathy Dobson 

A Canadian start-up that processes soybeans for the food industry has tagged Sarnia for a processing plant with an initial capital investment of about $170 million.

Site selection is in the final stages and, if all goes well, New Protein Global (NPG) will make an official announcement in July, says Matthew Slotwinski, senior economic development officer with the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership.

NPG officials declined comment but authorized Slotwinski to provide The Journal with details about the project, which could create 107 full-time skilled jobs in Sarnia.

“SLEP and regional stakeholders are working very closely with NPG to ensure the project moves forward,” said Slotwinski.

Items critical to the operation still need to be ironed out, but rezoning and Official Plan applications have landed at City Hall.

A public meeting is scheduled for July 25 at 1 p.m.

NPG, a Canadian company, considered at least one other region before zeroing in on Sarnia about three years ago. The plant is proposed for 8.4 hectares (21 acres) of the Bluewater Energy Park on Vidal Street South, formerly the Dow Chemical lands and now owned by TransAlta.

NPG plans to lease the land to build a procession plant along with an administration building, warehouse, and other buildings in the Energy Park, which is designated for heavy industry.

About 20 truckloads of soybeans would arrive onsite daily for processing. The beans would be crushed into flour and soybean isolate, then warehoused for sale to local, regional and international markets.

NPG intends to use technology new to Canada but proven elsewhere in the world, said Slotwinski.

The company has developed a proprietary extraction process that produces food-grade soy proteins without the use of hexane, a solvent made from crude oil and used to extract vegetable oil from plant seeds.

Sarnia was chosen because of its proximity to the U.S. border, competitive energy rates, skilled workforce, and the availability of raw materials, Slotwinski said.

Soybeans are among Lambton County’s largest cash crops with an estimated 190,000 acres harvested a year, according to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

The financial investment in the community would be significant, said Slotwinski.

“It would represent diversification of our industrial base, bringing a good mix that ties together chemistry and agriculture.”