Propelling pea protein production: Cargill’s US$75m investment in Puris facility
29 Aug 2019 --- Cargill is ramping up its interest in Puris, the largest North American producer of pea protein and a key supplier to Beyond Meat, with an additional US$75 million investment. This enables Puris to more than double its pea protein production using an existing Minnesota facility and to keep pace with the increasing demand for its category-leading pea proteins, starches and fibers.
Dubbed “the future of food”, the 200,000 square-foot Dawson plant, is “more than a pea protein facility,” according to Puris President, Tyler Lorenzen. “The facility will support Puris farmers in the US with a crop that regenerates their land and that is sustainable because it provides soil health advantages. It will also support the growing demand for plant-based products in the marketplace,” he says. “This investment will grant Puris the ability to assist more food companies, more farmers and more consumers faster.”
Puris will now own and operate three facilities in North America solely focused on pea protein production: Turtle Lake, Wisconsin; Oskaloosa, Iowa; and Dawson, Minnesota. With engineering complete on the Dawson facility, construction to retrofit it for pea production will start immediately, with an anticipated operational start date of late 2020.
Consumers continue to fuel demand for great-tasting, label-friendly, alternative proteins to meet their individual nutritional needs. Meanwhile, food and beverage manufacturers, in ever-increasing numbers, are turning to pea protein for its functional and nutritional attributes.
The launch of new pea-protein-based food and beverage products grew by 19 percent CAGR globally from January 2016 to December 2018, according to Innova Market Insights.
“As consumer demand increases for plant-based proteins, we want to make sure that Cargill, with our partner Puris, can deliver on that demand with sustainable and label-friendly pea protein for customers in North America and across the world,” adds Laurie Koenig, Cargill Texturizers and Specialty Lead. “This investment also provides significant support to the local economy with approximately 90 new jobs and a new revenue stream for Midwest farmers.”
Puris offers non-GMO and organic pea protein options that are touted for their proprietary, high-quality, clean flavor. Its non-major food allergen and vegan features check all the boxes consumers are seeking in label-friendly products across multiple food and beverage categories.
“Our investment in pea protein not only enhances our diverse portfolio of high-quality ingredients, but also expands our opportunity to work with customers to make products that use a variety of our ingredients to satisfy consumers around the world,” adds Koenig.
Beginning with its own proprietary pea seed, Puris utilizes its network of more than 400 US farmers to grow the peas, which not only provides economic benefit to the farmers but also helps regenerate the soil. Puris purchases the peas the farmers grow and turns the crops into pea ingredients, including pea protein, pea starch and pea fiber.
“While this is an important step in our growth for many reasons, one that resonates personally for me is to move ever closer to the vision my father had in 1985. A vision that plant-based nutrition would propel us to a better future for both people and our planet. With this investment, those possibilities are becoming realities, which in turn inspires us to create what's next for plants, people, planet and Puris,” adds Lorenzen.
Cargill, one of the world’s biggest agricultural companies, announced its joint venture with Puris last January, with an initial investment of US$25 million that was used to add substantial capacity at the Turtle Lake production facility.
This latest investment builds on Cargill’s other partnerships in alternative protein. In May, the company announced an investment in Aleph Farms, a cultured meat company focused on growing complex meat varieties like steak. Cargill participated in a Series A investment round led by VisVires New Protein and was joined by several other investors looking to move Aleph Farms’ product from prototype to the commercial marketplace. Aleph Farms grows meat directly from beef cells using a 3D tissue engineering platform.
Pea protein broadens the company’s portfolio of alternative proteins, such as cell-cultured protein, to meet consumer dietary preferences. “Pea protein holds significant potential to gain rapid adoption due to its attractive sensory characteristics, nutritional profile, functionality, versatility in applications, and ability to meet consumers’ growing expectations for non-GMO and organic protein options,” David Henstrom, Vice President, Cargill Starches, Sweeteners and Texturizers, told FoodIngredientsFirst at the time.
Puris cultivates a spectrum of plant-based foods and ingredients from US-based organic and non-GMO sources.
The demand for protein is expected to grow 70 percent over the next 30 years as the global population continues to increase, according to Cargill data.
The expected growth in plant proteins comes at a time when the adverse impacts of climate change and the effects on agriculture and livestock sectors are under the spotlight. Dietary changes are needed to slow the impact of climate change and consumers are expected to continue to push for ethical, environmental and sustainable food.
Edited by Gaynor Selby
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