A plant protein prophecy

by Jeff Gelski
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Tyler Lorenzen said he remembers cross-breeding corn and soy at the age of 12.
Tyler Lorenzen said he remembers cross-breeding corn and soy at the age of 12.
Courtesy of Bill Phelps
 

A different field

Tyler Lorenzen, meanwhile, was working on a different field — the football field. In 2007 and 2008 he played quarterback at the University of Connecticut, where he studied international business management. He also was a tight end in the New Orleans Saints’ organization from 2009 to 2011, including when the team won the National Football League’s Super Bowl in February 2010.

“When you’re an athlete, you do know that it’s finite and won’t last forever, but in the moment, you certainly think it will because that is all you know,” he said.

Once his football career ended, Tyler said he would come back to the family business, provided the family committed to grow the business to a larger scale.

He now serves as president while his father is chief executive officer. Sister Nicole Atchison received a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and serves as chief technology officer for Puris. Her husband, Jordan Atchison, heads up the grain business.

Renee Lorenzen has stayed involved and committed since 1985.

“She’s ultimately the boss’s boss,” Tyler Lorenzen said of his mother.

Jerry Lorenzen added, “Renee not only raised an incredible family, but also drove the business from the beginning. Her detailed operation and her business savvy is why we are here today.”

The company’s name changed to Puris in 2017 to capitalize on the popularity of the company’s protein-powered ingredients. Puris works with non-G.M.O. beans, pulses and corn. Besides pea protein, Puris also makes starches and fibers from peas. The ingredients may be incorporated into protein bars, protein crisps, ready-to-drink beverages, dairy alternatives, baked foods and dry beverage blends. The ingredients are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, allergen-free and free of preservatives.

Pea protein from Puris works especially well in baked foods applications, said David Henstrom, vice-president of Cargill starches, sweeteners and texturizers.

“Cargill has developed prototypes that deliver a good source of protein in many bakery applications,” he said. “In bread for instance, our customers are pleasantly surprised when they taste our prototype and there is no pea or grassy flavor, while still delivering 9 grams of protein per serving. Our prototype also delivers 5 grams of quality protein (good source).”

He added Puris offers a vertically integrated supply chain that includes established relationships with pea farmers that are certified organic through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program.

“Consumers are seeking greater transparency regarding how products are made and where the ingredients come from,” Mr. Henstrom said. “Puris pea protein is a compelling addition to a product’s story — from where and how it is made to delivering on consumer demand for non-G.M.O., certified organic, label-friendly ingredients.”

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