Crush a soybean and you’re left with oil and a granular substance referred to as meal. Dale Heide has cooked with both, in their raw, unprocessed forms. He made cookies with the meal and used the oil in his deep fryer.
Dale, Director Business Lines, and his colleague Keith Friesen, Grain Merchandiser at Delmar Commodities, gave me a tour of their Jordan Mills soybean crush facility situated on the corner of Hwy 3 and Hwy 23.
Its current capacity is impressive, and it is set up and ready to increase in step with Manitoba’s soybean acres.
If, like me, you’ve heard the phrase soybean crush facility often and if, like me, you’d like to know more about what’s involved in running such a facility as well as what’s involved in processing soybean into meal and oil, then read on. This article is for you.
This facility has particular significance to me. I see it every time I drive to Carman for work. I see it every time I drive to Winnipeg. I see it every time I drive north. I’ve even delivered soybeans to it (though, I think they were my dad’s).
I know it well. So, when people say, “we’re at Jordan corner,” my wife and I know we only have about 10 minutes to prepare for their arrival. It’s close to my farm.
“Delmar Commodities was started as a feed grain trading company over 20 years ago,” said Dale. “Soon after it began operating, the need for a physical handling facility became apparent and the Jordan siding was purchased. In the following years, other grain handling facilities were added.”
As soybean acres began to increase in Manitoba in the early 2000s, Delmar and some local partners put their heads together and found common ground in their determination that the trend to grow soys had staying power and that a crush facility would be viable and practical.
In 2002, Delmar constructed the Jordan Mills crush plant. It was a pioneering facility at the time and remains so today.
“It was at the time a much smaller facility than it is today, crushing just over 1,000 MT per month,” said Dale. “As the acres in Manitoba grew, so did the mill. Today, Jordan Mills will purchase and crush over 100,000 MT of Manitoba soybeans, per year, with most of the meal and oil generated staying in the three prairie provinces.
Delmar is quite active in the western Canadian soybean space and is a key character in the narrative surrounding the still burgeoning crop.
“Delmar’s division, Ceres Global Seeds, grows and distributes the Sevita brand of soybeans,” said Dale. “Delmar is a full-service company. We see ourselves as a cradle-to-grave operator, selecting the right soybeans for the various soybean-growing regions, having that seed grown and then selling those seeds through our own Delmar retail locations and other Sevita seed retailers. Then we buy that production back and turn those beans into high-quality soymeal and soy oil for use in the various livestock industries, locally. This is where we believe we can be a great partner with Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers (MPSG), as we cover many aspects of the soybean life cycle and have a vested interest in all portions.”
At Jordan Mills, soybeans get processed into oil and meal (in an impressively short and efficient amount of time).
The Crush Process
“The beans are carefully binned according to milling characteristics and then conditioned to provide a very consistent feedstock for the mill process,” explained Keith Friesen, Delmar’s Grain Merchandiser. “Jordan Mills uses a mechanical extrusion process rather than the typical hexane extraction method. This process ruptures the plant cell walls making it possible to separate much of the oil.
“During this time, the product is heated to a specific temperature for a specific duration, neutralizing the potentially harmful characteristics of the raw bean and improving characteristics of both the meal and oil (flavour and protein digestibility of the meal, and extended shelf life of the oil). This product is then pressed to remove most of the oil and is then cooled and ground to a specific particle size based on our customer’s requirements. The final meal product in a typical year is 42% protein and 7% fat, and, when compared to solvent meal, it contains much less moisture, provides superior flowability and creates much less dust.
“The oil that is removed is run through a series of steps to be classified as a crude degummed soybean oil. This product is in high demand, both from local livestock users as well as the rapidly growing renewable diesel industry. It has an extended shelf life and better cold-weather performance than other fat options.
“While mechanical extrusion does not allow full oil extraction, there are several positives that serve us well in Manitoba. Firstly, we can be efficient on a much smaller scale than a hexane plant. At 100,000 MT-plus per year, we feel we are well-positioned. Not too large as to require constant U.S. soybean imports, but large enough to be a leader in western Canada in regards to growing and expanding our soybean production and providing a needed reliable, convenient and local source of soybean meal for our livestock industry.
“Another benefit is that the meal that our extrusion process creates is unique, in that some of the oil is retained in the meal and allows our customers to fill two needs at once — protein and energy. As energy values climb, this factor becomes more and more significant.”
These products are primarily sold to the hog, poultry and dairy industries, each of which are highly concerned with quality and consistency. This is not an easy thing to guarantee. A poor growing year can result in soybean quality and quantity discrepancies. Delmar’s process is agile and capable enough to maintain a high level of quality in the face of these unknowns.
“With nearly all our soybean crush supply coming from Manitoba’s farmers, it is imperative to the success of our business that we maintain volume and quality of supply on an annual basis,” said Dale. “There are advantages to crushing local beans and being able to provide a local meal and oil supply — reduced freight to import soymeal, less freight to export soybeans to markets outside the area. In the changing world of carbon footprints, locally manufactured goods keep jobs here and they are good for our long-term environmental goals. Delmar Commodities and Jordan Mills see opportunities to work with MPSG to advance genetics and farming practices and promote our Manitoba-made feed products.
“As we look forward to future growth, we are excited by the potential that we see.”