New project will support innovation and diversification to improve competitiveness of the Canadian ecosystem

Portage la Prairie, MB, May 07, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As the global plant-based landscape evolves, so must the Canadian ecosystem. To support the continued competitiveness and profitability of Canadian companies, Protein Industries Canada is investing in a new project with Roquette, Prairie Fava, BioNeutra and Plant Up to improve efficiencies, develop new ingredients and food products, and explore new markets for co-products.

By focusing on continued innovation, diversified product offerings and process improvement, this project will help Canadian companies address some of their most pressing challenges, while ensuring Canada remains a global leader in plant-based ingredients, food and feed.

“As the plant-based protein market evolves, we will continue to work with Protein Industries Canada, one of our Global Innovation Clusters, to ensure Canadian ingredients remain competitive in the global market, both in quality and cost,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “With the help of Roquette and its project partners, this innovative project will contribute to more sustainable food ingredients and products, strengthening the economy and further solidifying Canada’s global leadership in plant protein manufacturing.”

“The demand for plant-based food and ingredients is growing here in Canada and around the world. Innovations in pea processing and new fava-based products will help establish more export markets and strengthen the competitiveness of our agricultural sector,” said The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

The $24.5 million project will see the companies work together to address some of the most pressing challenges facing their industry, including increased global competition, and demands from CPG companies and consumers for taste and ingredient functionality. The consortium will build on their past success with both pea and fava to explore new fava-based ingredients and food products, while creating applications for pea starch and fibre. The result will be a more diversified product offering, with new and expanded markets for protein, starch and fibre. Additionally, the improved processes will ensure profitable and competitive Canadian companies.

“As we work towards the goal of a $25 billion ingredient manufacturing and food processing sector for Canada, we must be focused on our competitiveness, and ensure we have profitable and successful companies,” CEO of Protein Industries Canada Bill Greuel said. “As is evidenced by this project, the Global Innovation Clusters support companies to innovate and commercialize new products, helping them meet global challenges and remain competitive within the domestic and global market.”

More than $24 million will be invested into the project, with the partners investing $13.7 million and Protein Industries Canada investing the remaining $10.7 million. Roquette, the project lead, will focus on improving the efficiency of pea processing while further exploring the development of new ingredients at their facility in Portage la Prairie, Man.

“Roquette has been a leader in the plant-based protein space for decades and innovation is in our DNA,” said Jennifer Kimmel, Head of R&D for Roquette in the Americas. “So we are delighted to lead this project with our partners to expand the boundaries of plant-based product offerings for protein, starch and fiber. One of our company’s values is ‘forward looking,’ and this project gives us the perfect platform to put that value into practice so we can find sustainable solutions for some of the biggest challenges facing our industry.”

Prairie Fava, a leader in the Canadian fava industry, will work with growers to increase fava bean acres, while working to optimize dehulling technology development for current and new fava varieties. These activities will ensure that Prairie Fava is able to consistently supply increasing volumes of high-quality dehulled fava splits to Roquette.

“Prairie Fava welcomes the opportunity to work once again with Roquette Canada. This project builds upon our very successful previous collaboration,” Prairie Fava co-founder and CEO Hailey Jefferies said. “Equally exciting is the expansion of our work on new food development, featuring fava with Plant Up and BioNeutra. Fava offers unique taste and functionality benefits which our partners will be able to exploit for the advantage of the entire consortium.”

From the Prairie Fava splits, Roquette will further process the dehulled fava to achieve high-performing fava protein isolates and co-products, diversifying from pea protein isolates and offering new ingredients to the global market.

Once Roquette has completed their work on testing and scaling-up their fava protein isolate, application and market development will begin. Plant Up will test the fava protein and co-products in their products and will provide Roquette with critical feedback on ingredient functionality and performance in finished food products. Plant Up will also work towards the development of a pea and fava-based alternative chicken whole cut product. This would be the first North American whole cut plant-based chicken offering.

“Plant Up is extremely excited to participate in this project,” Founder and CEO of Plant Up Aamir Malkani said.  “With Plant Up we are building a company that offers alternate sources of protein to the evolving needs of Canadian households. Plant Up has a range of chef crafted, globally inspired, frozen meals and appetizers and is working to provide Canadians with products that are aligned with their lifestyles and choices. This partnership will provide us with the opportunity to further innovate and develop products that can be used by consumers at home and the wider food service community. We aim to take plant-based mainstream and put Canada on the map as significant player in the global plant-based space.”

The second aspect of the project will see BioNeutra focus on evaluating domestic sources of starch, the co-product of processing pea flour to make pea protien. Currently reliant on international sources for its starch supply, BioNeutra intends to explore the feasibility of procuring wet starch directly from Roquette. This strategic shift aims to reduce transportation costs and the need for additional starch drying processes, thereby enhancing operational efficiencies for both entities.

“Creating higher value food ingredients from pea starch plays an important role in the health of the plant protein industry,” President and CEO of BioNeutra Dr. Jianhua Zhu said. “Working directly with Roquette will allow BioNeutra’s products to be globally competitive and in turn bring new benefit to Canadian farmers.”

Throughout the project, Roquette will continue to work with partners across the ecosystem, including research institutions, to develop new technologies related to the development of food-grade pea hull fibre, operational optimization for pea protein processing and the commercialization of new pea protein technology.

Protein Industries Canada is one of Canada’s five Global Innovation Clusters. Protein Industries Canada and our members are working to embrace the $25 billion opportunity presented by Canada’s ingredient manufacturing, food processing and bio-product sector. Projects such as these add value to, and create new markets for, Canadian crops, generating local jobs and supporting new economic development in locations across Canada. Protein Industries Canada currently has a $40 million call for eligible co-investment to advance R&D into ingredient manufacturing, food processing and co-products. The call closes on May 22, 2024. More information can be found at


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