New robotic bagger opens up big new productivity opportunities for soybean exporter
ANDREW JOSEPH, FEaTuRES EDiTOR PHOTOS BY PiERRE lOngTin
The humble soybean has generally been rec- ognized for the past 4,000 years as a prime staple food and medicinal ingredient in Asia, but it has only recently been widely embraced by the rest of the world as a tasty legume packing incred- ibly nutritional value for human consumption. Broadly used today in its green immature pod form of edamame, salty packages of soy sauce, soft and jiggly tofu, fermented protein-rich natto, silky- sweet soy beverages, tasty miso pastes or merely as the dry crunchy soy bean, its versatility is arguably second to none in modern food production. While the soybean was first introduced to U.S. farmers as far back as 1765, Canada did not see the cultivation of soy on its soil until 1855. But despite its relative late entry to the game, Canada has become a major player in growing food-grade soybeans for the Asian market, with the privately- owned S.G Ceresco Inc. helping to lead the way. With its head-office situated in Saint-Urbain- Premier district along the south shore of Montreal, Ceresco employs more than 70 people to han- dle, store and package vast quantities of soybean shipped in bulk from approximately 450 soybean producers across Quebec, collectively harvesting thousands of acres of purple flowering fields. “We are not specifically soybean farmers, and we don’t process it,” explains director of operations Manuel Gendron. “After we receive the harvested soybeans, we screen the product—what we call conditioning—place it in storage, and then bag
The Premier Tech Chronos PTH-920 open-mouth bag- ging line at the Ceresco facility in Saint-Urbain-Premier has enabled the soybean distributor to vastly improve its production line efficiencies.
and distribute it to our customers who will further process it.” Founded by the Gripon family back in 1981 with a purchase of a 100-hectare farm, the company originally used the farm’s existing grain-cleaning equipment to meet the needs of a few local pro- ducers involved in oats, barley and soy cultivation. By 1988, the Semences Gripon began selling its cleaned soybeans to European customers and by 1990 shipping to Asia with an initial shipment of 50 containers, totalling over 1,000 tons of soy- beans to new customers in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.