PEI

Pea processor sets up in Slemon Park

A new pea processing business setting up in Slemon Park is expected to bring up to a dozen jobs to the Summerside area, the province says.

Nearly 50 local farmers under contract to grow crop, company says

Chris Chivilo (second from left), owner of New Leaf Essentials East, joins P.E.I. ministers Heath MacDonald, Pat Murphy and Alan McIsaac at the new field pea processing plant in Slemon Park. (Province of P.E.I.)

A new pea processing business setting up in Slemon Park is expected to bring up to a dozen jobs to the Summerside area, the province says.

Island native Chris Chivilo, a pulse processor in Western Canada, has returned to P.E.I. to set up New Leaf Essentials East.

We see tremendous potential for growth here.- Chris Chivilo

He will contract with local farmers to produce about 5,000 acres of field peas and process them at the former potato chip plant in Slemon Park, according to a news release.

"This province has a deep agricultural history, thousands of experienced growers, a dedicated workforce, and an ideal season for growing the crops we process," Chivilo said in the release. "It's also my home province and we see tremendous potential for growth here."

The green peas are allowed to dry out before they are harvested and are exported to India, China and the Middle East. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

The company currently has about 1,200 hectares under contract with nearly 50 farmers. According to the news release, its target for 2017 is 5,000 acres [2,023 hectares].

It said some of the peas will be used in pet and aquaculture foods and others will be exported whole.

Returns similar to soybeans

Agriculture Minister Alan McIsaac said New Leaf Essentials East's pea production will bring returns similar to those seen with soybean production. According to the Department of Finance's statistical review, wheat, oats, barley and soybeans combined for almost $34 million in farm cash receipts in 2015.

Potatoes, by comparison, accounted for almost $224 million.

Underutilized facility

Rural and Regional Development Minister Pat Murphy said the new business will add jobs in the Summerside region and breathe new life into an underused facility in Slemon Park.

"The benefits of this new enterprise will be felt in rural Prince Edward Island and the agricultural community for years to come," he said.

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