‘New Leaf’ for chip plant means new products, markets
Creating jobs for Islanders -
A former potato chip plant is creating new market opportunities and lucrative new crops for the farmers of Prince Edward Island.
Earlier this year, New Leaf Essentials East took over facilities in Slemon Park previously used by Small Fry and Humpty Dumpty to produce potato chips. Now the plant specializes in processing “pulses” – high-protein legume plants like dried peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
They are used in pulse products including starches, proteins, fiber and flour for human and pet food markets, including aquaculture feed. The company also serves export markets worldwide.
The Slemon Park expansion has a good Island pedigree. Chris Chivilo – New Leaf Essentials East co-owner with his wife, Tracey Chivilo - is a Charlottetown Rural High School graduate and owner of W.A. Grain and Pulse Solutions in Innisfail, Alberta.
New Leaf Essential East has a sister company, New Leaf Essentials West, based in Bowden, Alberta, that provides similar product line offerings. New Leaf Essentials East services the eastern half of North America, while New Leaf Essentials West services the western half of North America, together they serve export markets worldwide.
Wayne MacLean, general manager of New Leaf Essentials East, said they are creating jobs for Islanders while providing a valuable new marketplace for Island growers.
“We work with local growers to provide alternative crops that will improve their financial returns; as part of this we continually look at new pulse crops that will grow well in Island growing conditions,” MacLean said. “We partner with local growers, local and national research organizations, and local grower support organizations, to identify an optimal crop rotation that provides both a positive impact to the soil, and sound financial returns for the farmer”.
For 2017 New Leaf Essentials had contracted for 6,000 acres of product grown, with a target for 2018 of 12,000 acres. The company estimated that it would contract with 50 farmers this year and create as many as 12 jobs at its Slemon Park plant alone.
In opening the plant, Chivilo said he was pleased to be able to connect with his home province and to let PEI shine as a food producer and processor.
“This province has a deep agricultural history, thousands of experienced growers, a dedicated workforce, and an ideal season for growing the crops we process,” Chivilo said. “It’s also my home province and we see tremendous potential for growth here, which is why we’re so pleased to be opening New Leaf Essentials East in Slemon Park.”