Construction at United Pulse Trading is expected to be completed sometime this spring. It is an optimistic outlook for what is anticipated to become one of the busiest sites in the region and a welcome addition to the agricultural business community.
Minot's United Pulse Trading complex is among 30 such facilities world-wide that are considered added-value operations. United Pulse is a subsidiary of Alliance Grain Traders Inc. of Regina, Sask.
"We're excited to be building in Minot and be a part of the community. We're all about adding value to crops being grown locally," said Eric Bartsch, United Pulse Trading. "In Minot we'll be able to annually produce 100,000 metric tons. That will consume a fair amount of the chickpea and dry edible beans grown with the Minot area."
A railroad line on the south side of the United Pulse Trading complex is expected to see significant use when the plant becomes fully operational later this year. United Pulse Trading is located in the Value-added Agricultural Complex on the north side of Railway Avenue, just east of Minot.
Bartsch said the Minot facility is "unique to our company globally" because it will be one of the first plants to produce pea protein, starch and fiber.
"We're all about adding value to crops being grown locally," said Bartsch.
Products produced by United Pulse in Minot will be free of genetically modified organisms and be gluten-free. Such products are in demand at various locations throughout the world. Europe is expected to provide an abundance of customers for North Dakota pulses processed just east of Minot.
What is a pulse?
Pulses are part of the legume family, but the term "pulse" refers only to the dried seed. Dried peas, edible beans, lentils and chickpeas are the most common varieties of pulses. Pulses are very high in protein and fiber, and are low in fat.
"Our slogan is that we are producers to the world," said Bartsch. "I truly believe in added value to crops grown in the producer's back yard. This facility is not only for cleaning pulses and split pulses, but to mill pulses into a flour for the ingredients market across the world."
United Pulse is not completely new to the region. They also have an administrative office in Bismarck and a plant in Williston. Minot was carefully chosen for expansion with a completely new facility for a variety of reasons, one of which was close proximity to efficient shipping.
"The Port of North Dakota is right across the road. It's definitely an advantage using containers coming into Minot," explained Bartsch. "Historically, the majority of our product has been moved by hopper cars to the coast and then loaded onto containers for shipping. Here we can source load containers at this facility and the next person to open our containers will be our customer."
For North Dakota products to be shipped globally, construction must first be completed at the United Pulse plant. Workers have been busy throughout the winter at the site, doing what they can despite weather that is often objectionable. Nevertheless, construction progress continues.
"We're in the final phases of construction," said Bartsch.
A number of high-capacity storage bins have been at the United Pulse location for several months. The bins tie into the rest of the facility.
A BNSF Railway line services the southern edge of the plant. It is there that product produced in Minot will be loaded into shipping containers, moved by rail to coastal ports and loaded directly onto ships for destinations overseas.
A large crane could be seen at the United Pulse facility this past week. It is being used for construction of enclosures on the north side of the plant. When completed the plant is expected to employ up to 45 people.