Cargill enters into pea protein joint venture

In an interview with Agri Investor, David Henstrom, vice-president of the company's starches, sweeteners and texturizers business, explained what separates pea protein from its peers.

Privately held agricultural conglomerate Cargill has entered into a joint-venture agreement with PURIS, the largest producer of pea protein in North America.

Minnesota-headquartered PURIS was founded in 1986 and manufactures pea protein, starches and fibers derived from soy, pulses, lentils and other plant sources. Its offerings include seeds for non-GMO and organic peas. The company maintains facilities devoted to pea protein processing in Oskaloosa, Iowa and Turtle Lake, Wisconsin.

“Cargill is excited to expand into the emerging pea protein space while continuing to support our conventional agricultural crops,” said David Henstrom, vice-president of Cargill’s starches, sweeteners and texturizers. “It’s clear that PURIS is in alignment with Cargill’s vision to meet growing demand for protein globally and to help customers deliver label-friendly products without sacrificing taste.”

Cargill’s partnership with PURIS will focus on the addition of production capacity, and comes in response to growing demand for plant-based proteins from global consumers, Cargill said. Europe is currently the largest market for alternative proteins, followed by North America, according to Rabobank.

In its global protein outlook released last month, the agriculture-focused Dutch bank wrote that alternative protein had captured the attention of sustainability and welfare-minded consumers, “flexitarians” and investors.

Last January, family-owned specialty food ingredient producer Roquette announced that it had invested C$400 million ($300 million; €280 million) to begin construction of what it said would be the world’s largest pea-processing facility in Manitoba, Canada.

“Plant-based meat substitutes will remain dominant in the market, while emerging alternatives such as insect- or algae-based and lab-grown meat products still need to gain consumers’ trust and generate structural demand,” Rabobank wrote.

Consumer choice

Henstrom said that compared with other sources of alternative protein, peas have attractive sensory, nutritional and applicability characteristics that leave them with significant potential for rapid adoption by consumers. Both Cargill and PURIS highlighted their products’ taste as a factor differentiating the company’s pea protein from that of their competitors.

“From our seeds being bred for specific nutrition and taste attributes to our proprietary processing technologies, we ensure a wholesome and flavorful experience for our customers,” PURIS president Tyler Lorenzen told Agri Investor.