Province backs new Hamilton bulk flour mill

With public funds in hand, Winnipeg agrifood firm Parrish and Heimbecker is set to build Ontario’s first new flour mill in three-quarters of a century, near the company’s grain terminal in Hamilton.

The provincial government on Monday pledged a $5 million investment from the Food and Beverage Growth Fund arm of its $2.5 billion Jobs and Prosperity Fund for P+H’s planned bulk mill. The company’s P+H Milling division will invest $40 million, the province said.

The new mill will be built on Hamilton’s Pier 10, where P+H already operates a unique twin-domed port terminal. The mill site will include “state-of-the-art” equipment and additional grain and flour storage, the province said.

The expansion is expected to allow P+H to process 25 per cent more grain and boost its annual intake of Ontario wheat by more than 10 per cent, the province added.

The province didn’t give a timeline for the construction in its release, but CBC Hamilton on Monday quoted P+H Milling president Derek Jamieson as saying the mill is expected to be built by late next year.

P+H is already Ontario’s biggest flour miller and Canada’s second-biggest, with Ontario mills at Cambridge, Acton and Hanover, plus mills at Montreal, Halifax, Lethbridge and Saskatoon.

The privately-held grain firm has been in flour milling since 1964, when it bought Hanover’s Knechtel Milling, followed by Ellison Milling at Lethbridge in 1975, Saskatoon pulse and grain processor Parrheim Foods in 1989 and Hayhoe Mills at Vaughan, Ont. in 2007. The Vaughan mill was lost to fire the following year.

The flour mills at Acton, Saskatoon, Montreal and Halifax came to P+H in 2009, in a $99 million deal for the 75 per cent of Burlington, Ont.-based Dover Industries that the Winnipeg firm didn’t already own.

The company’s product lines include hard red spring wheat flour for breads, soft winter wheat flour for cakes and cookies, semolina for pasta, organic flour, rye flour and atta flour for chappati. The Parrheim plant at Saskatoon also mills pea fractions and barley beta-glucan.

The Ontario government said Monday a new Hamilton mill will increase P+H Milling’s productivity, boost the company’s competitiveness, create 16 new jobs and help retain over 200 Ontario jobs.

Local MPP Ted McMeekin, a former provincial ag minister and Hamilton city councillor, said in Monday’s release that P+H’s plan is “great news for our community and will provide new opportunities for the Hamilton port and the larger regional economy.”

The Food and Beverage Growth Fund, launched in January, backs food and beverage processing and bioproduct projects with at least $5 million in total eligible costs. The fund offers grants or loans covering up to 20 per cent of those costs. — AGCanada.com Network

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