Manitoba Entrepreneurs Plan Revival of the Province’s Buckwheat Industry
Two Manitoba entrepreneurs are planning a revival of the province’s buckwheat industry along with the construction of a $15 million buckwheat processing plant that will require 30,000 to 50,000 acres worth of buckwheat per year to satisfy capacity.
Under a new company named, Fyk Soba Inc., the project already has secured its engineering and architectural permits and is scheduled to break ground in July.
The company has contracted buckwheat this spring to secure future supply when the facility opens leading to a 300% increase in regional acreage from 2,000 acres last year, to between 8,000 and 10,000 acres this year. Although this represents impressive growth, these numbers are significantly lower than buckwheat acreage in the 1970s or 1980s when Manitoba was cultivating 180,000 acres in order to supply Japan with 80% of its buckwheat. Since then, China has taken over supplying Japan’s market, Viterra stopped buying Manitoba buckwheat, and the expansion of soybean cultivation in Canada began to encroach upon buckwheat acreage.
Buckwheat’s status as being ‘gluten free’ gives it an advantage, as it is able to tap into the booming, niche gluten-free market, and its significantly lower cost of production gives it an advantage over canola, which is costlier to produce and is experiencing tight margins.