Global agribusiness giant Cargill is set to invest US$50M (A$73M) in Australia in upgrading and expanding its oilseed crushing facilities in Newcastle, Narrabi and Footscray to meet rising global and domestic demand for canola and cottonseed oil.

As part of the investment, Cargill would upgrade and re-start its Narrabri plant which had been modified into a dedicated cottonseed dehulling plant, the company said on 26 April.

The hulls from Narrabri would cater to domestic feedstock markets and cottonseed would be transported to Newcastle where it would be further processed into oil and meal, Cargill said.

Cargill said its plant in Newcastle, New South Wales, would also be upgraded to crush cottonseed alongside its existing canola processing capacity, which would significantly increase the plant’s total crushing capacity. Other plant upgrades included improvements in oilseed processing equipment to serve the increased throughput and improved transport.

In addition, canola crushing capacity would also increase at Cargill’s Footscray plant with upgrades to processing equipment and some modifications to improve logistics.

“This investment… will help Cargill better serve the growing demand for canola and cottonseed products from customers both in Australia and across Asia. It will also connect Australian farmers to international markets, creating more demand for locally-grown canola,” Zsolt Kocza, managing director of Cargill agriculture supply chain in Australia and SSEA, said.

Major export destinations for canola oil include China, New Zealand and Vietnam.

Cargill said it expected the investment to allow it to be able to supply new domestic customers with cottonseed hulls and oil.

Active in Australia since 1967, Cargill processes over 680,000 tonnes/year of canola, cottonseed, sunflowerseed and soyabeans in Australia to produce protein meal for animal feed and vegetable oil for foods such as margarine, salad dressings and frying.