- Cargill has put $75 million more into Puris, a Minnesota-based producer of pea protein, following an investment of $25 million from Cargill to the company last year.
- The new funding will be used to more than double pea protein production at a 200,000-square-foot facility in Dawson, Minnesota. The company also has facilities in Wisconsin and Iowa.
- Puris provides non-GMO and organic pea protein options grown by a network of more than 400 U.S. farmers from its own proprietary seed.
This added investment builds on the joint venture agreement Cargill and Puris entered into last year to speed up pea protein production.
For Cargill, its ongoing relationship with Puris could help the Minnesota-based agricultural products giant ramp up its plant protein portfolio, which is likely to include pea protein products. Launches of foods and beverages containing pea protein saw a 19% compound annual growth rate between January 2016 and December 2018, according to Innova Market Insights data cited by Food Navigator.
One of Puris' customers is Beyond Meat, which continues to boost production of its plant-based products using peas as the main source of protein, according to CNBC. Beyond Meat also sources the ingredient from Roquette, a French food ingredient maker.
While pea-based protein has been popular in Europe and elsewhere, the U.S. market has been relatively small until recently. Extracted from dried and ground yellow split peas, pea protein is now showing up in everything from smoothies and protein bars to meat alternatives and yogurt. General Mills uses the ingredient in its Larabar and Cascadian Farms brands, and Ripple Foods has centered its entire brand around pea-based milk.
Other plant-based products using pea protein include the Lightlife Burger from Canada's Maple Leaf Foods, which also uses the protein in its ground meat, bratwurst and Italian sausage products. Ripple Foods' dairy alternatives and Good Catch Foods' fake tuna also rely on pea protein, as do a variety of protein powders, baked goods and smoothies.
This surging popularity has raised questions about supply. As makers of faux beef, chicken, seafood and dairy substitutes look to legume-based protein for their formulations, they're asking whether there will be enough pea protein to fuel market growth. But if Puris and other suppliers such as Roquette, Kerry and ADM are able to significantly enhance production, this issue might be resolved.
Besides peas, other popular plant-based protein sources include soy, whey and wheat. Some consumers avoid soy and wheat due to problems with allergies or gluten, while whey requires milk. Experts say pea protein's bioavailability is less than whey or soy, but it can be more cost-effective to use than animal proteins. If demand for pea protein keeps up, Cargill's investment in Puris could pay off and help ensure supply, quality and sustainability.