Cargill Inc. said Thursday that it has begun building a $200 million-plus sunflower oil crushing plant in southern Russia, the agribusiness giant’s latest addition to its already sizable portfolio in the country.
The new sunflower plant in the Volgograd region will process up to 640,000 tons of sunflower seeds per year and is expected to be operational in time for the 2015 harvest. The plant — in the heart of Russia’s sunflower growing region — will produce edible oil as well as sunflower meal for animal feed.
“This investment is in line with our strategy to focus on the growth and development of our offering to farmers in Russia,” Andreas Rickmers, head of Cargill’s grain and oilseeds business in Europe, said in a statement.
Minnetonka-based Cargill is one of the largest foreign investors in Russia’s agribusiness sector, with around $1 billion sunk into the country, where it employs about 2,700.
Cargill, one of the world’s largest privately held companies, established a beachhead in Russia in the early 1990s, soon after the fall of the Soviet Union.
It made one of its earliest investments there in 1994 in a sweeteners plant in Efremov, 200 miles south of Moscow.
Over the years, Cargill has turned Efremov into a vast complex for several products, from vegetable oils to malt to animal feed.
Earlier in 2013, Cargill opened a $40 million chicken processing plant in Efremov, its first such operation in Russia. The plant primarily supplies McDonalds restaurants in Russia with Chicken McNuggets.
Cargill also has an office in Moscow and a grain handling operation in Russia’s Krasnodar region near the Black Sea.
Cargill is a global force in everything from meat processing to cocoa to commodities trading.
It’s a major processor of crops into oil and meal, including soybeans, canola, palm fruit and sunflowers.
Closer to its home base, it operates a sunflower and canola oil processing plant in West Fargo, N.D.