Innovation driving success of Canadian award-winning, women-led food and ingredient companies
Vancouver, BC, April 21, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Two trailblazing women, whose companies operate at different points of the food supply chain, are partnering to offer new, innovative plant-based food products through a project co-invested in by Protein Industries Canada.
Prairie Fava, the leading Canadian fava bean ingredient supplier, is joining forces with Big Mountain Foods, an award-winning innovator of plant-based consumer packaged goods (CPG) foods, to create a new line of fava-based food products, such as non-allergen tofu.
This partnership will result in more healthy food options for Canadians produced right here at home in a next-generation manufacturing facility purposely designed to meet and exceed sustainability requirements.
“Innovation through collaboration is crucial as Canada strives to be a leading innovator in the plant-based food sector. Projects such as this one from Protein Industries Canada are becoming increasingly important to the Canadian economy and to provide Canadians with the best plant-based food products. As we see the demand rising, businesses and consumers alike will benefit by being provided with healthy alternatives to foods currently on the market,” said The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.
“To meet the evolving needs of Canadian and global consumers for healthier food options, it is key to support the expansion of innovative companies. Through collaborative partnerships that support the development on Canadian plant-based products, we are creating a greater variety of food options for consumers and driving forward sustainability in Canada’s agri-food sector,” said The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
This partnership builds on two earlier Protein Industries Canada projects in which each company worked with other consortiums to build out capacity around the creation and application of new ingredients and food products. The success of those innovations led to this partnership.
“At Protein Industries Canada we bring together trailblazing companies to create new opportunities for innovation,” CEO of Protein Industries Canada Bill Greuel said. “Through the work of companies like Prairie Fava and Big Mountain Foods, we are building capacity and creating a globally competitive ecosystem that will support Canada’s economic growth and prosperity.”
Currently, most plant-based foods are made using soy, wheat and yellow or green peas, however as the market grows, there is an ever-growing demand by consumers for more and different products plant-based food products. This project will incorporate low vicine and co-vicine (LVLCV) fava varieties into Big Mountain Foods’ line of CPG and food service products. These products will meet the request of several leading Canadian food manufacturers and food service providers. Potential products include a non-allergen tofu and other fava-based food products.
“Prairie Fava is excited to partner with Big Mountain Foods to supply our high protein fava flour and splits and to support new product development through nutritional, functional and sensory data,” President and Co-Founder of Prairie Fava Hailey Jefferies said. “The results will lead to the creation of new fava CPG and food service products with higher demand being translated back to fava growers. This project will provide benefits to the entire value-chain as the activities will positively impact fava producers through to Canadian food and ingredient companies who are increasingly interested in using fava in new products.”
Big Mountain Foods will produce fava-based products at the first ever allergen and soy free tofu factory in the world. This allergen-free tofu is superior in protein content to soy tofu, but has the same taste, colour, functionality, and texture as traditional tofu.
“Big Mountain Foods is honored to be in partnership with Prairie Fava and Protein Industries Canada,” President of Big Mountain Foods Jasmine Byrne said. “We believe Fava to be the next big thing in plant protein and are working towards bringing more consumer awareness to the benefits of fava including taste, nutrition, and sustainability. At Big Mountain Foods, our goal is to be the leader in alternative tofu products with the capacity to produce 15 million units a year.”
The momentum of Canada’s plant-based food ecosystem directly co-relates to the strength of the supportive ecosystem and institutions such as Prairie Research Kitchen at Red River College Polytechnic in Winnipeg, MB. Both Prairie Fava and Big Mountain Food benefited from the guidance and expertise of Prairie Research Kitchen’s blended team of food science and culinary expertise.
“As more and more companies are looking to develop and integrate new ingredients into plant-based foods, the importance of applied research and culinary expertise is becoming increasingly important as part of the research ecosystem,” Director of Prairie Research Kitchen Mavis McRae said. “In the case of this project, our team played a pivotal role in developing value-added fava-based products and supporting the development of Big Mountain Foods’ tofu products. Seeing two women-led companies scale up their companies and achieve success is a great achievement for Prairie Research Kitchen.”
Over the past three years, Protein Industries Canada and industry partners have invested more than $485 million into growing Canada’s plant-based food, feed, and ingredient sector. The results of these investments include improved farming practices, increased sustainability, traceability, and the production of new ingredients and food products.
Cumulatively, this will increase the choices available to Canadians on grocery store shelves, create jobs and improve the health of our environment. Protein Industries Canada’s goal is to grow Canada’s plant-based food sector to $25 billion a year by 2035 and create 17,000 new jobs.
About Prairie Fava
The food market is seeking new plant-based ingredients that are healthy, sustainable and have good functionality. Fava ingredients are gluten-free, are light in colour and flavour, have high density protein, are rich in nutrients, and comeu from an environmentally sustainable, non-GMO pulse crop. Fava ingredients can significantly improve flavor and texture and boost nutrition in foods. Prairie Fava (PF) is an agri-food ingredient company located in the heart of the Canadian prairies – Glenboro, Man. PF was established by Hailey and Cale Jefferies in 2015 and supplies whole fava bean, dehulled split fava bean, and raw and precooked fava flour.
PF is the “the fava bean company” supplying high-quality, healthy fava beans, fava ingredients and fava consumer products to the world. Current intellectual property includes the exclusive license in North America for a first ever fava bean variety with a low vicine/covicine content (DL Rico) owned by Manitoba-based seed developer DL Seeds/NPZ. PF has secured North American (IP/closed-loop) distribution rights, which provides a competitive advantage for fava marketed into the food industry. Their fava beans are grown sustainably, and they work closely with farmers to ensure high-quality standards. They are dedicated to complete traceability and control of their beans, from seed to shelf. Their flour can be certified as kosher and halal. With plant-based ingredients on the rise, fava is a fantastic ingredient option to help meet demand.
About Big Mountain Foods
Kimberly Chamberland founded Big Mountain Foods in 1987. The company has always been committed to product innovation while remaining true to their core values of creating food that they would proudly serve their own families. Products are sold fresh and can be found in over 6,000 retailer locations such as Whole Foods, Save on Foods, Loblaws, Sobeys, Safeway, Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions, Ralphs, Kroger and Sprouts. Big Mountain Foods remains family-owned and operated and has taken on no outside investors since its inception.