The 50-50 venture between Bunge Europe and Estron will be located in the port of Ilyichevsk, Ukraine, and is adjacent to the grain export terminal owned by Estron.
The plant's projected crushing capacity is 600,000 tons per year, and it is expected to be operational in early 2005. The plant, as a client of the terminal, will have access to the terminal's expanded capacity of 240,000 tons of storage space with two panamax vessel loaders, Bunge said.
"Bunge's strategy is to be the leading agribusiness and food company in the higher growth markets. This investment reflects the confidence of the joint venture partners in the long-term agricultural potential of Ukraine," said Jean-Louis Gourbin, CEO of Bunge Europe.
But the new plant will supply more than just the local market. "The port of Ilyichevsk is ideally suited as a logistics gateway to service and supply the Black Sea, Mediterranean, and Near East vegetable protein and oil markets," said a spokesperson for Estron.
The products from the new plant will be marketed by Bunge, leveraging its global customer base. Sunseed and other oilseeds for processing will be originated locally by Suntrade, Bunge's Ukrainian origination company, which has been active in the region since 1998.
As well as being the world's leading oilseed processing company, Bunge is the biggest seller of bottled vegetable oils to consumers, while in Europe it is also the leading producer of soybean meal. In a bid to capitalise on the growing awareness of the health benefits of soy, Bunge also recently joined forces with DuPont to form Solae, a leading producer of soy protein concentrates and isolates.