Pea, canola, oat and other plant proteins poised for rapid growth

Plant-based protein production has grown dramatically in order to meet the increasing demand coming from the swelling global population, expected to reach 10 billion by 2050. In the new report Plant Proteins: Present and Future Lux Research evaluates 24 crops and their attractiveness as plant protein sources.

Lux analysed 24 different plant protein sources on crop production factors globally and for three major regions: North America, Europe, and Asia. Overall, Lux identified soy, wheat, and rice as the top three “staple” crops for plant protein, with pea, canola, oat, and chickpea as the “alternative” up-and-comers.

For North America and Europe, soy and wheat are the No. 1 plant protein sources, respectively, but given their extensive nonfood uses, along with the general diversification of plant proteins, pea, oat, and canola are more attractive opportunities within these regions going forward. Oat and canola are particularly appealing, as numerous companies are already scaling up pea protein production, investing nearly half a billion dollars in facility construction since 2017.

Asia is in a unique position given that the region has a near monopoly on several crops. Two of these are rice and chickpea, with Asia responsible for 90 per cent and 75 per cent of global production, respectively. These are not as widely used for protein ingredients as the other short-listed crops, which highlights their untapped potential.

Three instances are having an impact on the plant protein space: the rise of insurgents like Beyond Meat; the proliferation of product launches from large multinational corporations (MNCs) like Tyson; and the onset of trade uncertainty from events like the U.S.-China trade war.

“The storylines signal the need for the diversity of protein sources as both startups and MNCs move beyond soy, and for those sources to be capable of not only supporting the increasing supply requirements of these companies but also regional self-sufficiency to mitigate trade risk,” said Lux research analyst and lead author of the report Thomas Hayes.

“Technology innovation will play an important role in unlocking new plant-based protein opportunities, especially when combined with sources that are affordable, accessible, and abundant,”  he said.

Gene editing or advanced breeding approaches will increase protein content in crops, while innovative extraction methods will enable new crops as sources of protein isolates and concentrates. Lux also predicts that novel processing technologies and ingredients will improve the sensory and nutritional qualities of plant-based proteins. Such innovations will allow growers to demand a premium, defray protein extraction costs downstream, further broaden the consumer appeal of plant-based products, and more.

How many time can you fry your chips with Canola oil?

Charles Sturt University research comparing canola oil processed using different techniques has found differences in frying life – that is the number of times the oil can be reused.

The project at the Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transforming Training Centre for Functional Grains examined the quality of Canola oil samples used to fry potato chips for 36 to 48 cycles.

Charles Sturt University post doctoral researcher, Dr Randy Adjonu, presented the research at the recent World Congress on Oils and Fats in Sydney.

“The number of times you use Canola oil for frying impacts on the taste and health properties,” Adjonu said. “Our research has found the extraction and processing method can significantly impact the frying life of canola oil, with differences of up to 30 per cent.

“Crude canola extraction methods include cold pressing, expeller pressing where the seed is heat treated before extraction, and expeller processing followed by solvent extraction.

“It’s not as simple as saying one extraction or processing method is better than another in terms of frying life though, as there were differences between samples extracted using similar techniques.

“More research is needed to pinpoint how extraction and processing influences frying life, so processors can use this information to improve their product.”

Adjonu said increasing frying life has the potential to deliver benefits to end users, processors and canola growers.

“The more times you can use the oil without compromising the quality increases its value for money,” Adjonu said. “Increasing the frying life is one way that Canola oil processors can add value to their product. Much of Australia’s canola is currently exported for biodiesel production, and increasing the value of oil crushed locally for human consumption is one way we can ‘future proof’ our industry against volatility in the world markets.”

Burcon to build $70 million pea and canola protein production plant

Burcon NutraScience Corporation, a company that specialises in developing functionally and nutritionally valuable plant-proteins, has announced that it has entered into a joint venture partnership with an investor group to build a new $70 million pea-protein and canola-protein commercial production facility in Western Canada. The protein production facility, which is planned to initially process approximately 20,000 tonnes of peas per year starting in mid-2020, will produce Burcon’s Peazazz and Peazac pea proteins, as well as Burcon’s Supertein, Puratein and Nutratein canola proteins.

“Today’s announcements constitute a truly transformative event for Burcon, and a new chapter in Burcon’s development focused on bringing the company’s unique plant proteins to market directly as a producer.” said Johann F. Tergesen, Burcon’s president and chief executive officer.  “Having the capacity to produce both our unique pea proteins, as well as our canola proteins, in our own production facility is a key pillar of our differentiation strategy. The ability to blend our pea and canola proteins to create nutritionally unparalleled plant protein combinations, while preserving the highly desirable functional properties the proteins naturally possess, will give us a true competitive advantage.  We look forward to offering our pea and canola protein products to customers and consumers in Canada, North America and worldwide.”

Features of the agreement include:

  • Establishes a joint venture to build and operate a $65 million plant protein production facility.
  • JV partner investor group has extensive operations expertise in production facility design and startup, as well as considerable expertise in the manufacturing and sale of plant proteins.
  • JV partner investor group to invest up to $16 million in capital contributions in joint venture partnership.
  • Enters into 20-year exclusive license agreement for Burcon’s pea and canola protein technologies.
  • Plant protein production facility designed to produce Burcon’s Peazazz® and Peazac™ pea proteins, as well as Burcon’s Supertein®, Puratein® and Nutratein® canola proteins.
  • World’s only commercial-scale food-grade canola protein production facility.
  • Phase 1 production processing capacity of 20,000 tonnes per year.
  • Funding structure provides significant equity position for Burcon.
  • Ability to produce plant protein blends with exceptional nutritional value.
  • Advanced state of readiness: completion projected in mid-2020.
  • Production plant design incorporates ability to efficiently expand processing capacity in the future.
  • Advanced state of product development discussions with fast-moving consumer goods companies.