WINNIPEG, MAN. — Richardson International Ltd., Canada’s largest, privately owned agribusiness, is investing $15 million to expand and enhance its canola oil processing plant in Lethbridge, Alta., to meet increasing customer demand for healthier food products.

As part of the expansion, Richardson said it will undertake a 40% increase in the size of its canola packaging plant in Lethbridge, adding 33,000 square feet with increased warehouse space and bulk oil storage. The project also will increase efficiencies by fully automating the oil receiving and blending process.

“Our business overall has increased dramatically due to unprecedented customer demand for healthier food products,” said John Haen, vice-president of Richardson Nutrition. “By increasing the footprint of our Lethbridge plant and automating the way we do business, we will be able to better serve our customers’ needs today and into the future.”

Richardson Nutrition is a division of Richardson Oilseed Ltd., a subsidiary of Richardson International Ltd.

The facility expansion is the latest in a series of moves Richardson International has made over the past 18 months to strengthen its research and development capabilities. The company also has been working to develop new canola-based oil, non-hydrogenated margarine and shortening products for the food processing, bakery, food service and retail markets, and plans to open a new $1.5 million lab facility and pilot plant at the Lethbridge facility to continue research and development work.

“With a state-of-the-art plant, a brand new lab focused on research and development and expanded processing and packaging capabilities, Richardson is well-positioned to develop and deliver new canola-based products to our customers around the world,” Mr. Haen said.