Pea protein hailed a “rising star” as Puris opens US facility, doubling production
Cargill says “pea protein has emerged as a significant ingredient” due to widespread consumer acceptance
13 Oct 2021 --- The increase in the plant-based appetite is demonstrated in the retail space with NPD hitting shelves weekly, and pea protein is fast becoming a crucial ingredient rivaling soy. In line with this, Puris has opened a new US facility forecast to double the production of its pea protein ingredient.
According to Puris, the opening of the Minnesota-based operation cements its position as a critical pea protein supplier in North America and accelerates its strategy to build a more sustainable food system.
The Dawson facility will support continued growth for Puris Proteins, a joint venture between Puris and Cargill that began in 2019.
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Laurie Koenig, North America regional segment lead, texturizers and specialty at Cargill, says pea protein has quickly emerged as a significant player due to widespread consumer acceptance with its versatility across application types and ability to meet manufacturers’ nutritional, functional and label objectives.
With the facility’s completion, Puris will operate the only vertically integrated, multi-plant pea protein production model in the US.
It will enable the company to supply roughly 50% of North America’s pea protein and do so sustainably while also making available products to be grown, processed and packed in the US.
“This is more than a pea protein processing plant. We’re shaping the future of food,” says Tyler Lorenzen, CEO of Puris Proteins, Cargill’s JV with Puris.
“The model we’ve built puts sustainable partnerships in reach for brands of all sizes. There’s impact at every level – it supports the local economy, introduces peas as a revenue stream for farmers, makes plant-based foods more available to consumers and brings us one step closer to a sustainable food system.”
Pea rises to compete with soy
According to Koenig at Cargill, soy protein is highly functional, cost-effective and one of the few plant proteins considered to be a “complete” protein.
“Backed by a well-established supply chain, soy protein remains the most-used plant protein in the marketplace. However, pea protein has emerged as a significant player, along with its versatility across application types and ability to meet manufacturers’ nutritional, functional and label objectives,” she explains. Soy is an allergen and can be genetically modified in the US.
Demand for protein – both traditional and alternative – is expected to continue to rise, Koenig flags. “We have a strong history of providing high-quality protein products to customers and will continue to invest in expanding our ability to meet these growing consumer needs.”
“Pea protein is a rising star in plant-based formulations,” she affirms.
Functionally, nutritionally and from a label perspective, pea protein can help brands achieve their formulation goals across various applications.
In particular, Koenig believes pea protein is especially well suited for the exploding dairy- and meat-alternative spaces, “thanks to its emulsifying and water-binding capabilities.”
In addition, Puris pea protein is a very clean-tasting protein with a neutral flavor profile, a key advantage over many other botanical protein options.
“Network, innovate and scale”
Lorenzen says Puris is working to feed future generations, to ensure there’s quality nutrition available and a healthy planet to house a growing population.
“With the addition of the Dawson facility, we’re even better equipped to expand our network, innovate and scale,” he remarks.
“Our investment allows Cargill to remain at the forefront of the plant-based protein revolution by meeting the growing demand for great-tasting, sustainable and label-friendly pea protein for both current and prospective customers in North America and globally,” adds Mike Wagner, managing director for Cargill’s starches, sweeteners and texturizers business in North America.
“Pea protein not only enhances our diverse portfolio of ingredients but also expands our opportunity to work with customers to make products that use a variety of our ingredients to satisfy consumers.”
Tapping into consumer trends
Pea protein and other pea ingredients align with many of today’s most prominent consumer demands, outlines Koenig.
“Plant-sourced, familiar and label-friendly, our proprietary consumer research consistently finds consumers perceive pea protein as a healthy choice, and it has a positive effect on purchases, as revealed by Cargill’s IngredienTracker proprietary research (2020).”
Perceived as natural, label-friendly and sustainable, they deliver on many critical points for today’s discerning shoppers, she notes.
“This heightened demand for plant-based products is a key reason we joined with Puris inthe Scale It Up Innovation Challenge, which aims to help start-ups bring sustainable, plant-based protein foods to market faster.”
Plant-based eating surges
The move from Puris comes as consumer interest in plant-based eating surges.
Tipped as Innova Market Insights’ number two trend for 2021, “Plant Forward” spotlights expansion to different regions and categories.
The accelerated demand for new plant-based formats and more sophisticated alternatives is forecasted for upcoming successful launches.
According to data from the market researcher, the total amount of meat substitute launches is increasing globally, featuring a +39% year-over-year growth when comparing 2019 and 2020 launches.
In 2020, pea protein (34%), pea protein isolate (7%), and pea protein rehydrated (5%) were the top three leading pea protein ingredients among the meat substitute launches tracked.
As an example of NPD, Nestlé recently launched Wunda, a pea-based beverage that the company touts as “epic in everything.”
With a rising demand for pea ingredients, suppliers recently reported an unprecedented situation that strongly impacts the market – a tight raw material supply capacity amid rising global demand for meat alternatives. Specifically, pea availability has been hit by an exceptional drought this summer in Canada, the largest pea-producing region in the world.
By Elizabeth Green and Gaynor Selby
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