For the establishment of a pea processing plant in Latvia, the company's ASNS Ingredient board member Edgars Ruža said that the project will be very important for farmers who grow peas and food producers who want to produce vegan milk and meat substitutes.
"We are currently working together with Jelgava City Council, with the University of Agriculture to develop a technological center for new food production, a business park where start-ups are developing, and we would like to hope that Latvia could be one of the European leaders in the production of new, alternative food. The project is cash-intensive. To recycle 70,000 tonnes of peas, the investment is over €100 million. We have reached an agreement with strategic partners, a major international player who has agreed to our offer to buy 25% of our project. It is a company with a turnover of 7 billion in the food sector and their willingness is to enter this new food niche and they need such a partner, a raw material producer," Ruža said.
The development of the factory project has been delayed not only because of the Ukrainian war, the Covid-19 pandemic, and price increases, but also due to bureaucratic barriers to buying land from Jelgava municipality.
“It all takes time. Of course, Russian aggression and the global collapse of logistics have also had a certain impact on our design work, but we are already seeing these materials becoming cheaper,” the businessman said.
The owner of the farm “Laši”, Artūrs Akmens, operates 800 hectares of land in the Jēkabpils municipality. He grew peas on 60 hectares last year and estimated that there was still learning to do, but peas are a prospective culture.
“There were all sorts of errors, and the choice of fields, perhaps. In agriculture, each step is important, from land preparation, sowing, and maintaining afterward. Plant change must now be started, and also, wheat grows better after peas [on the same land]. Europe's demands come on account of all things, so we will simply have to grow them. Farmers will sell to their co-operatives. We have our own company in Jēkabpils, Latrapša. If it is a factory for us in Latvia, there will be VAT for the final product, it will not have been exported somewhere outside Latvia. There will be new jobs, tax revenues,” said the farmer.
Construction of the pea protein plant in Jelgava could start in the autumn or winter of next year, but the processing of peas will start in Q2 2025.