SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN — Protein Industries Canada has partnered with Lovingly Made Flour Mills, TMRW Foods and Dutton Farms to drive the development of pea and fava protein ingredients for use in alternative food products, including plant-based meat.

The nonprofit trade organization, which aims to position Canada as a global source of plant protein and plant-based co-products, said its three partners will focus on developing optimal varieties of pea and fava crops into protein ingredients and creating a “full value-chain feedback loop” that meets the needs of food processors, food manufacturers and consumers.

Protein Industries Canada said it has invested $3.3 million (Canadian) of the $7.7 million earmarked for the project, with the partners providing the rest of the funds. Saskatoon-based Lovingly Made Flour Mills, which specializes in transforming pulse crops into food ingredients, describes itself as Canada’s leading dry fractionation plant. Food innovation company TMRW Foods, with headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia, focuses on finding ways to use plant-based proteins for new, more sustainable food products. And Paynton, Saskatchewan-based seed grower Dutton Farms produces pulse crops, oilseeds and cereal grains.

“Investment into Canada’s ingredient manufacturing sector can help improve Canada’s productivity and prosperity,” said Bill Greuel, chief executive officer of Protein Industries Canada. “By focusing on developing and better utilizing pea and fava ingredients, partners Lovingly Made Flour Mills, TMRW Foods and Dutton Farms are bringing increased value to two key Canadian protein crops. This value will only build as the ingredients make their way into finished food products and reach international markets, helping Canada achieve its $25 billion opportunity in plant-based food, ingredients and bioproducts.”

For the project, Dutton Farms and Lovingly Made Flour Mills will determine the best pea and fava varieties to use in Lovingly Made’s processing and extrusion methods with the goal of developing new texturized vegetable protein ingredients, Protein Industries Canada said. TMRW Foods then will test the ingredients – as well as use Dutton Farms’ varieties to extrude its own protein ingredients – for use in alternative meat products for grocery and foodservice channels in Canadian and international markets.

“The Protein Industries Canada research project is a significant milestone for Dutton Farms, enabling us to concentrate on increasing yield, protein and seed quality,” said Vicki Dutton, owner of Dutton Farms. “These factors are not only crucial for the profitability of faba bean in production for farmers but also hold immense potential for the plant food industry, promising a future of more nutritious and sustainable food options.”

The investment by Protein Industries Canada and collaboration with Dutton Farms and TMRW Foods are “aimed at driving innovation forward,” noted Lovingly Made Flour Mills CEO Heidi Dutton. “This funding not only underscores our commitment to innovation but also enables us to bring groundbreaking solutions to the forefront in plant-based proteins,” she said.

Protein Industries Canada is one of Canada’s five Global Innovation Clusters – including protein industries, digital technology, advanced manufacturing, scale artificial intelligence (AI) and ocean – formed to build innovative ecosystems that better position the country in global markets. In its 2022 budget, the Canadian government allocated $750 million over five years for the Global Innovation Clusters, and a total of nearly $2 billion has been invested to date.

The protein industries cluster, with total funding of up to $323 million, focuses on boosting the value of key Canadian crops – such as canola, wheat and pulses – to serve growing markets for plant-based meat alternatives and new food products in North America, Asia and Europe. That cluster supports The Road to $25 Billion, a sector-wide initiative in Canada to generate $25 billion in annual sales from plant-based food and ingredients by 2035.

Dean Blignaut, co-founder and CEO of TMRW Foods, said the Protein Industries Canada project “allows us to add significant value to the Canadian agricultural supply chain.” He added, “Plant proteins are the most efficient way to feed the planet, and this project will accelerate our ability to make high-quality alternative proteins accessible and affordable to the masses.”

In a separate announcement, Protein Industries Canada said inaugural CEO Gruel, with the organization since October 2018, is slated to leave on July 31 to become Saskatchewan’s deputy minister of agriculture. Plans call for the board to name an interim CEO in the coming weeks, and a search is under way for a permanent CEO.