Creating a clean-label soy protein for Canada’s plant-based food and ingredients sector
Sarnia, Ont., July 06, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Consumers add Canadian plant-based foods and beverages to their diets for plenty of reasons, with health and environmental sustainability being among the top cited. Today, consumers can add another reason to their list, as New Protein International (“NPI”), Huron Commodities and Hensall Co-operative’s Animal Nutrition division combine their expertise to optimize a proprietary clean-label soy protein processing method.
As part of a co-investment with Protein Industries Canada, NPI is building a demonstration-scale processing facility in which they will test, refine and optimize a proprietary hexane-free processing method using Canadian soybeans. By removing hexane from the soy protein extraction process, NPI will be able to supply manufacturers, retailers and consumers with a new non-GMO, clean-label product, helping meet consumer demand for healthy, sustainable plant-based foods and ingredients. While NPI will own and operate the plant, its upstream partner Huron Commodities and downstream partner Hensall Co-Op will provide invaluable input into the soybeans and the end products respectively.
“Today’s announcement highlights how the Protein Industries Cluster is creating new opportunities to cement Canada as a global leader in the plant-based food and ingredients sector,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “This project will help meet the growing demand for high-quality and sustainable plant-based protein products while increasing the value of Canadian-grown and -processed soybeans.”
In place of hexane, the facility will utilize New Protein International’s proprietary extraction process, BioPur, which incorporates CO2 extraction and bio-based solvents. Huron Commodities will provide soybean varieties for testing, allowing the partners to determine how the new method will impact protein functionality. Completing the loop, Hensall Co-op’s Animal Nutrition division will test and provide feedback on the ingredients’ by-products, ensuring a full-seed utilization that drives toward both sustainability and additional value for Canada’s soybean crop. Beyond this current project, there is opportunity to explore the application of this technology for all other Canadian oilseeds.
NPI intends to deploy the proprietary technology at its commercial-scale facility that it will begin construction on later this year. It will be the first facility in Canada to produce soy protein isolate, a critical food ingredient used in baby formula, athletic supplements, plant-based food products and many other applications. The company will focus on non-GMO, rainforest-friendly, highly functional isolates.
“Consumer demands around food production are constantly evolving, and Canada’s plant-based sector needs to evolve and adapt alongside them—whether that be through the types of ingredients we use, the varieties of crops we utilize or the processing methods we develop,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said. “Removing hexane from soy protein processing while adding value to the rest of the soybean crop is the kind of innovation that will help us keep pace with what consumers want, while also helping Canada meet its economic goals related to plant-based food and ingredients.”
A total of $11.2 million has been committed to the project, with Protein Industries Canada investing $2.2 million and the partners together investing the remaining portion. The investment, combined with the partners’ dedication to removing hexane from plant protein extraction, will help Canada meet the growing global demand for products that are healthy, sustainable and produced using clean processing methods.
“This exciting project with Protein Industries Canada and our respected consortium partners is an important step toward bringing sustainable soy protein production to Canada. Given the demand for plant-based foods and infant formula, the need for this key food ingredient has never been higher. We are excited to optimize our proprietary hexane-free technology, and in future to apply it to other oilseeds too,” NPI Chief Operating Officer Mark Hamelin said.
“Huron Commodities Inc. is thrilled for the opportunity to participate in this project, which incorporates superior Ontario soybean genetics into domestic food ingredient production,” Huron Commodities Chief Operating Officer Adam VanderLoo said.
The pilot plant has also received support at the local level from the Grain Farmers of Ontario’s Grains Innovation Fund.
“Over half of Ontario’s soybeans are exported,” said Paul Hoekstra, VP of Strategic Development at Grain Farmers of Ontario. “Increasing innovative processing capacity here at home creates valuable new diversification opportunities for local farmers.”
Together with industry, Protein Industries Canada has committed more than $485 million to growing Canada’s plant-based food and ingredients sector. Through these investments, companies across the value chain are helping make the sector more sustainable, while lining grocery store shelves with innovative and healthy products for families across the country to enjoy.
About New Protein International
New Protein International has developed a proprietary process to produce a clean-label, hexane-free soy protein, BioPur. Their products include soy protein isolates, soy protein powders, textured soy proteins and soy flours. The company will be deploying this technology at a commercial-scale soy protein plant that it will be built starting in the fall of 2022, the first such facility in Canada.
About Huron Commodities
Huron is a leading global provider of custom-sourced grains, beans and seed products to meet specialised needs of buyers in food and feed industries. The company provides identity-preserved varieties, certified non-GMO food and feed crops, sustainably grown products, premium-grade forage and feed, custom packaged brands, and global logistics management. Huron has access to proprietary, specialised soybean varieties, which enables it to deliver individualised product solutions.
About Hensall Co-operative
Founded in 1937, Hensall Co-op is one of the largest non-financial co-operatives in Canada, with more than 6,000 member-owners and more than 30 available locations in Ontario and Manitoba. With customers in more than 40 countries and operations in food products (edible dry beans and food grade soybeans), grain and ingredient marketing, energy (fuel and propane), animal nutrition and global freight forwarding and logistics, they have a proud tradition of delivering value to their members and customers.