U.S. firm partners with James Cameron’s Prairie pulse processor

verdient foods vanscoy

CNS Canada — Saskatchewan pulse processing company Verdient Foods has entered into a joint venture agreement with U.S. company Ingredion to expand operations.

The organic pea protein fractionation facility at Vanscoy, about 20 km southwest of Saskatoon, has been running since last year and the new agreement will see it expand operations to include more pulses.

“We’ve identified plant-based proteins as a high growth, high value market opportunity that is on-trend with consumers’ desire to find sustainable and good tasting alternatives to animal based proteins,” Ingredion CEO James Zallie said in a release.

Ingredion announced the deal in December as part of a US$140 million investment in plant-based proteins. The announcement also included the expansion of Ingredion’s Vitessence pulse protein isolate line.

That expansion will be done through the conversion of a soy processing facility in South Sioux City, Neb., which Ingredion bought last year, into a pulse processor.

The Verdient facility is run by PMC Management, which manages several processing ventures owned by Academy Award-winning film director James Cameron and his wife Suzy Amis Cameron. Saskatoon-based PIC Investment Group also has ownership of the plant.

The Vanscoy plant, announced in 2017, was online by 2018.

Ingredion “share(s) our vision for plant-based proteins and other ingredients from pulses, and with their resources, expertise and worldwide reach, together we can be leaders in the new wave of global food production,” James Cameron said in Ingredion’s release.

Ingredion, based near Chicago, processes grains, fruits, vegetables and other plant materials into value-added ingredients for various industries. Its products are available in more than 120 countries.

According to Verdient’s website, it plans to increase annual production volume to over 160,000 tonnes at the Vanscoy plant. In a release on the latest partnership, it said investments are being made within the existing facility to make pulse-based protein concentrates and flours from peas, lentils and fababeans for human food applications.

This isn’t Ingredion’s first business with the Saskatchewan pulse industry. In 2014, Ingredion signed a deal with Regina-based AGT Food and Ingredients to be the exclusive distributor of AGT’s pulse flours, protein and bran ingredients for its consumer foods and ingredient divisions.

However, the two companies recently agreed to end the exclusive distribution agreement.

According to a spokesperson with Ingredion, AGT and Ingredion “anticipate that a supply relationship may continue on a non-exclusive basis in the future.”

— Ashley Robinson writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Glacier FarmMedia company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow her at @AshleyMR1993 on Twitter.

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