Ingredion spearheads $140m investment to accelerate plant-based protein growth

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14 Dec 2018 --- Ingredion has announced “several steps” to accelerate production of plant-based proteins globally, joining a combined $140 million of strategic investments which will seek to expand the broad range of plant-based protein solutions. As a result, two North American manufacturing facilities will produce pea-protein isolates and a range of pulse-based flours and concentrates in 2019. One of them is partly owned by Oscar-winning director James Cameron who is best known for big budget movies such as Titanic and Avatar, and has previously channeled funds into Canada’s pea protein processing capabilities.

Ingredion says that it’s making “significant capital investments” to transform a soy processing facility in South Sioux City, Nebraska, to produce protein isolates from peas, having purchased the site in February. This also includes plans to include production of isolates from other pulses as well. 

The facility will produce ingredients that enhance the company’s current VITESSENCE pulse protein isolate line, to include higher protein isolates primarily for the nutrition, health and wellness categories.

Combined strategic investments boost plant-based proteins
Ingredion has also entered into a joint venture agreement with Verdient Foods, Inc., a Canadian company based in Vanscoy, Saskatchewan, jointly owned and operated by Cameron and his wife Suzy Amis Cameron and a local Saskatchewan family office, PIC Investment Group. As well as the joint venture agreement with Verdient Foods, Ingredion will use a combined $140 million of strategic investments towards the project. 

Investments are being made within the existing facility to make pulse-based protein concentrates and flours from peas, lentils and fava beans for food applications.

“We've found a great partner in Ingredion. They share our vision for plant-based proteins and other ingredients from pulses, and with their resources, expertise and worldwide reach, together we can be leaders in the new wave of global food production. This is also a huge opportunity for Canadians, especially in the prairie provinces, to add value locally to their vast agricultural production,” says Cameron. 

Ingredion’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Jim Zallie, says the company has identified plant-based proteins as a high-growth, high-value market opportunity that is on-trend with consumers’ desire to find sustainable and good tasting alternatives to animal-based proteins.

“We’re excited by what these investments represent for Ingredion. Being a sustainable and trusted source of plant-based proteins provides us with another major ingredient platform to complement our offerings in clean label, wholesome, texture and nutritional ingredient solutions,” he says. 

Ingredion’s investment comes as there is major growth in the plant-based protein market. An increased number of consumers are switching to plant-based diets for many reasons, including protecting animals, preserving the environment and as a healthier alternative to meat. 

Ingredion’s strategic intent is to be the leading solutions provider in non-soy plant proteins and this requires a diverse portfolio of flours, concentrates and isolates.

The Canadian market is an ideal space for innovation and NPD along plant-based lines, illustrated by the Canadian Government seeking to place the country as a leader in the plant-based market with a $153 million investment in the Prairie-based Protein Industries Canada Supercluster. This, combined with the legalization of recreational cannabis which has opened the door to a whole new category of cannabis-infused foods, makes for an exciting time in Canadian food and beverages.

As more consumers seek these alternatives, the market for plant-based proteins is rapidly growing and extending beyond North America and to sources beyond soy and wheat protein. 

Plant-based innovation is flourishing, according to Innova Market Insights as increasing consumer interest in health, sustainability and ethics are also driving plant-derived ingredients and products into high popularity. Innova Market Insights reports that plant-based product claims increased by 62 percent globally (CAGR, 2013-2017) with growth occurring on platforms such as plant proteins, active botanicals, sweeteners, herbs and seasonings and coloring foodstuffs.

The global market for non-soy, gluten-free plant-based proteins is projected to be $1.5 billion by 2022, says Ingredion. As a result, manufacturers are looking at plant-based proteins that offer functional, sustainable and nutritional attributes, inclusive of non-GMO and certified organic options.

“More consumers are looking for products with clean and simple labels, offering specific health and nutrition benefits that taste great,” adds Tony DeLio, Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Chief Innovation Officer at Ingredion. 

“Meeting the nutritional needs and achieving the right functional requirements will require a broad range of protein alternatives that are sustainable, affordable and great tasting. By combining our expertise in product formulation with an expanded plant-based product portfolio, we’re well positioned to deliver a breadth of ingredient solutions for our customers around the world.”

“We look forward to working with Verdient Foods, Inc., and leveraging their sustainable sourcing practices for Canadian pulses. Our investments in Nebraska and Saskatchewan represent an exciting new chapter for Ingredion as an innovative ingredient solutions provider,” adds Zallie. 

This latest investment from Ingredion closely follows the company announcing US$60 million of planned investments to grow its specialty food ingredients business in Asia-Pacific. And, just last week Ingredion also announced it has entered into a relationship with Matsutani Chemical Industry Co., Ltd., Japan’s leading producer of specialty ingredients. The company will manufacture ASTRAEA Allulose in Mexico and market it across the Americas. The on-trend ingredient is 70 percent as sweet as sugar and helps manufacturers reduce sucrose in their recipes and develop reduced-calorie food and beverages to meet growing consumer demand.

Earlier this year, FoodIngredientsFirst also has an in-depth interview with Zallie who said he wanted Ingredion to be “bolder and bigger in our thinking,” while also speaking about targeting strong growth for the company in specialty ingredients, which will be partly achieved through further acquisitions. 

To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com

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