Investments & Acquisitions

Protein Industries Canada Announces $19.2M Investment in Canadian Plant-Based Ingredients Project

Global innovation cluster Protein Industries Canada has unveiled a $19.2 million investment initiative to develop innovative Canadian ingredients for new snack and food options. Avena Foods, a key player in this project, will leverage the funding to create oat and pulse ingredients that will replace processing aids in products by Big Mountain Foods, Danone Canada, and Old Dutch Foods. This will lead to new consumer offerings, including allergy-friendly alternatives.

“The global food market is in need of sustainable and nutritious ingredients”

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry, stated, “The global food market is in need of sustainable and nutritious ingredients, and Canada is helping meet that demand. By supporting projects like this one, Protein Industries Canada, one of Canada’s global innovation clusters, is securing Canada’s position as a global supplier of plant-based ingredients.”

Protein Industries Canada is contributing $7.3 million to this project, with the total budget set to $19.2 million. Avena Foods will utilize the funding to optimize and refine specialty-milled oat and pulse flours, creating minimally processed ingredients that align with the unique processes of each customer. These ingredients will be used to reformulate and develop consumer-ready food products with improved nutritional value, using clean-label and sustainably sourced oat and pulse ingredients.

Protein Industries Canada investment
© Protein Industries Canada

Optimized ingredients for plant-based products

Old Dutch, Danone, and Big Mountain Foods will adopt the optimized ingredients from Avena to create new snack options and reformulated products. These include plant-based beverages, creamers, veggie links, cutlets, pastries, fillings, and alternative non-soy/non-fava tofu products.

Protein Industries Canada has significantly contributed to plant-based food, feed, and ingredient development since 2018. Last year, the $150 million funding renewal from the federal government further propelled its efforts, including a $10 million fund to increase the use of AI in the plant-based food sector. Earlier this month, Protein Industries Canada announced a partnership with Avena Foods, Canadian Pacifico Seaweeds, and Konscious Foods, focusing on enhancing the nutritional content of seafood alternatives.

Avena Foods’ CEO, Wayne Arsenault, expressed gratitude for the investment: “Avena welcomes this investment from Protein Industries Canada and the opportunity to work collaboratively with our customers. Our goal is to provide exactly what they need from our deck of functional and nutritious oat and pulse ingredients and to further support them with sustainability metrics, such as life cycle assessment for our ingredients.”

Avena Foods pulses
© Avena Foods

Cutting-edge technology

Over the last year, Danone has increased focus on its plant-based offerings, launching So Delicious Organic Oatmilk and Greek-style plant-based yogurt. This new investment will support the continued expansion of its plant-based products, with Danone Canada Vice-President of Research & Innovation Pierre Morin noting, “This collaboration will facilitate access to cutting-edge technology in plant-based ingredient production – allowing us to continue delivering on our promise of offering innovative and quality options for consumers.”

Representatives from Big Mountain Foods and Old Dutch Foods also explained how the support from Protein Industries Canada will help the companies “revolutionize the culinary landscape” and support further expansion and innovation.

Bill Greuel, CEO of Protein Industries Canada, commented, “Investment into ingredient manufacturing is an untapped economic opportunity for Canada, and this project is an example of what is possible when we take our widely-available Canadian crops, such as pulses and oats, to create new ingredients and food.”

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