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Source: Protein Industries Canada news release

Hailey and Cale Jefferies of Prairie Fava (CNW Group/Protein Industries Canada)

Winnipeg, MB - Today, Protein Industries Canada announced their sixth investment into a collaborative R&D project to help advance Canada's plant protein ecosystem. The project brings together investment into new technologies and processes along with efforts to build capacity in Canada's growing plant protein sector.

The project will see $19.2 million invested between Protein Industries Canada, Roquette and Prairie Fava. Together the consortium will work to address nutrition and processing challenges for pea and fava on the Prairies, while also exploring the utility of blended pea-fava protein products.

"Superclusters continue to demonstrate their convening power by bringing together large international players with Canadian SMEs and academic institutions. This project is expanding our ability to be a global leader in the production of plant protein, while exploring the market potential for blended pea-fava products. The training component will help create a next generation of specialists who can continue to power Canada's agrifood sector," said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

The large project has several sub-activities ranging from breeding, to agronomic improvements, through to finished product testing and human clinical trials. Specifically, this project will address unique processing challenges associated with running a pea processing plant in Western Canada, such as how to mitigate the effects of cold weather.

This knowledge will be key in further expanding Canada's ability to be a global leader in the production of plant protein. Through its lifespan, it is expected that, in addition to the project consortium, 11 Canadian academic and research institutions and two additional SMEs will bring expertise and conduct research as part of this project. This will help train students, improve curricula and infrastructure, and build skills to support the development of a strong workforce for Canada's agrifood sector.

"This project will be key to furthering Canada's position as a global leader in plant protein," said CEO of Protein Industries Canada Bill Greuel. "It's building on Canada's strength in pulse crop production and will bring solutions to overcome specific challenges with processing in Canada.

t's also taking technology from a Canadian SME and applying that to large-scale projects to help create new ingredients and end-products. The work undertaken on this project will truly build capacity across our ecosystem and bring benefit to Canadians through a stronger and more robust agrifood processing industry, right here in Canada."

The pea portion of the research will start with evaluation of pea varieties in western Canada and their suitability for Roquette's new plant. This will be followed with research on processing to improve the functional properties of the pea protein isolates.

"As a global leader in food, nutrition and health markets, Roquette has more than 40 years of experience in plant-protein research and development," said Dominique Baumann, Managing Director, Roquette in Canada. "This PIC investment provides us with an opportunity to collaborate with Prairie Fava on developing and strengthening the value-chain for pulse crops across the Canadian Prairies. Growers, livestock producers, food innovators and consumers will all see the benefits of this supercluster funding."

The fava portion of the research is largely focused on optimizing the dehulling and processing of fava beans by Prairie Fava, increasing their efficiency and reducing their costs of production. The partnership will also focus on the development of end-products and pea-fava ingredient blends.

"All aspects of the fava bean component will enhance the productivity, performance and competitiveness of the value-chain, from the farmer to the end-user," said Hailey Jefferies, Co-Founder and CEO of Prairie Fava. "The partnership of Prairie Fava and Roquette, with the support of PIC, will lead to expanded skills development, research and development and, ultimately, capacity for the fava value-chain through boosting technical compatibility of collaborative research organizations and co-manufacturers working on fava."

Protein Industries Canada is currently accepting expressions of interest through its third call for projects. With the inclusion of this project, Protein Industries Canada has invested $79 million into projects across Western Canada.

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