Canola exporters are crushing it (literally)

Big Canola is betting that canola oil will be used to deep fry potatoes and power vehicles.  

Driving the news: Canadian canola exporters plan to hike the country’s canola processing (called crushing) capacity by 50% over the next two-to-three years as they seek to reduce reliance on foreign processors amidst a surge in demand for the lustrous yellow crop. 

  • Louis Dreyfus is the most recent global crop giant to announce a Canadian canola processing push, pledging to more than double the size of its Yorkton, SK facility.

Why it matters: Canada is the world’s largest canola producer (fun fact, the “can” in canola literally stands for Canada), with farmers harvesting over 18 million tonnes last year. 

But despite the name, canola represents a missed opportunity (classic Canada). Canada usually crushes only around half of its harvest and is forced to export the rest. By expanding domestic capacity, it can cut out the middlemen and capitalize on the growing demand for canola oil in biofuels

Wait, did you say biofuels? Yep! A process called transesterification can turn canola oil into a renewable biodiesel that produces up to 90% fewer emissions than standard fossil fuels. As many countries look to cut emissions, canola processors see a huge opportunity. 

  • Currently, most biodiesels are made of soybean oil, but canola is more attractive as its seeds yield more oil and soybean harvesting is linked to Amazon deforestation.

Yes, but: Critics point out that emissions created by harvesting canola cancel out gains from using it as a biofuel. Some countries have heeded their words. Germany—a major buyer of Canadian canola for use in biofuels—proposed a ban on crop-based biofuels by 2030.–QH