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Canada’s Vegetable Oil Industry Sustains Record Setting Growth

Nov. 6, 2012, Toronto, ON - Canada's canola and soybean based vegetable oil industry is thriving as it meets escalating domestic and international demand for healthful vegetable oil.

In the twelve months ending July 2012, Canada's growers and processors produced a record 3.4 million tonnes of canola and soybean oils, more than doubling the production of 2005.

Annually, about 600,000 tonnes of this production is consumed by Canadians either as grocery store items or foodservice products. Canadian vegetable oils are an excellent source of dietary fat and are used to prepare a vast array of foods. Familiar retail products made from Canadian vegetable oil include margarine, cooking oil, mayonnaise and salad dressing.

"Canada's vegetable oil industry is helping to maintain a healthy Canadian population," said Sean McPhee, President of the Vegetable Oil Industry of Canada. "The industry also exports its considerable surplus to feed a growing international demand for vegetable oils, especially in the U.S. and China."

In the twelve months ending July 2012, 2.8 million tonnes of Canadian vegetable oil was exported with the U.S. and China accounting for 2.4 million tonnes of this demand. Since 2007, U.S. imports of Canadian vegetable oil have increased 100 per cent, while China's have increased more than 300 per cent.

"The vegetable oil industry is an important part of Canada's growing agri-food sector," said McPhee. The industry's processing capacity in 2012 is nearly double the capacity in 2007, and it is anticipated that further expansion will increase capacity 50 per cent by 2015. Total capital investment in processing capacity from the 2007 to 2015 period is expected to be approximately $1 billion.

For example, Cargill recently announced plans to build a new canola processing facility near Camrose, Alberta, which will have a processing capacity of 850,000 tonnes of canola per year and will generate approximately 800,000 hours of employment throughout the construction phase. Similarly, Bunge Canada has invested in the doubling of crushing capacity at both its Altona Manitoba and Fort Saskatchewan Alberta facilities.

"Canada's vegetable oil industry has been a leader in reducing trans fat and saturated fat resulting in a much healthier Canadian diet," said McPhee. This year, the Vegetable Oil Industry of Canada introduced a new health claim, developed by the University of Guelph and approved by Health Canada, advising consumers to replace dietary sources of saturated fat with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from vegetable oil to lower cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease. According to Statistics Canada, over 40 per cent of Canadians have high cholesterol.

"We are pleased that Health Canada supports the vegetable oil industry in providing consumers with this important positive direction on what dietary fats they should be eating to reduce cholesterol levels," said McPhee, Vegetable Oil Industry of Canada (VOIC).