Seed World

New Partnership to Develop Pea and Hemp Varieties for Ingredient Processing In Canada

Today, Protein Industries Canada announced a partnership to help build on the use of pea and hemp in plant-based food and ingredients.

NRGene Canada, Farmers Business Network Canada, Inc., Pulse Genetics and Manitoba Harvest are coming together to develop new pea and hemp varieties for use in food and ingredient processing, including a new pea-hemp flour blend. The partners will focus on increasing the protein content and improving the starch content and texture of ingredients derived from the new varieties, potentially increasing their use in plant-based foods and beverages across Canada and internationally.

“With this project, Canada’s small and medium-sized enterprises are once again showing us that they are at the forefront of innovation in the plant-based protein industry,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “This collaboration will enable the partners to develop products and create new plant-protein varieties more rapidly and at a lower cost, helping meet the demands of Canadians and offering them more choices for high-protein plant-based products at their local grocery stores.”

“Canada’s agricultural sector is a global frontrunner in innovative research, creating new agri-food ingredients and products, developing new marketing opportunities, and adding value to Canadian-grown commodities,” said Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau. “This partnership between Canada’s pea and hemp sectors will work to develop new varieties of both commodities, improving their protein and starch contents, and opening up new opportunities in plant-based foods and beverages.”

Pulse Genetics will focus on improving Canada’s well-established pea sector, while Farmers Business Network Canada, Inc. will focus on the country’s growing hemp sector; both will utilize NRGene’s genomics technology in their efforts to develop new varieties. While commercialization of the new varieties won’t occur until after the project’s completion, Manitoba Harvest will work with existing varieties to develop a pea-hemp flour blend that will become a base formulation they will improve upon once access to the new varieties becomes available.

“Through this project, NRGene, Farmers Business Network Canada, Inc., Pulse Genetics and Manitoba Harvest are displaying the diverse commodities Canada has to offer, while also helping meet the needs of food manufacturers and consumers,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said. “By focusing on an established protein crop, like peas, and one that’s still growing in popularity, like hemp, they’re helping diversify our sector even further—an important step in opening new markets and establishing the country as a leader in meeting consumer plant-based food demands.”

NRGene, Farmers Business Network Canada, Inc., Pulse Genetics and Manitoba Harvest are together investing $3.3 million into the project, with Protein Industries Canada investing an additional $1.8 million. The total project investment is $5.1 million.

“We are thrilled to take part in this partnership that will advance the plant-based protein sector — one of the growing sectors impacting global sustainability,” NRGene CEO and Co-Founder Dr. Gil Ronen said. “This project is one of a kind, as it ties together companies from different stages of the industry value chain. The fact that we can apply NRGene’s cutting-edge genomics to help our partners naturally develop and grow varieties with characteristics required to the specific end-product—the pea-hemp flour blend—will bring to the market improved product in a significantly shorter time. I believe it will provide great value and global advantage to the Canadian alternative protein industry.”

“At FBN, we’re constantly striving to provide our members with as many options as possible to maximize their operation’s profit potential,” FBN Direct, Global, President Tom Staples said. “We’re looking forward to collaborating with Protein Industries Canada to bring a range of new hemp varieties to market.”

“As a newcomer to the plant breeding community, Pulse Genetics is excited to be a part of this strategic partnership which combines expertise to develop innovative new products for Canada’s fast-growing plant-based protein industry,” Pulse Genetics Owner Pete Giesbrecht said.

“As the largest and longest-standing hemp brand in North America, we are committed to providing our customers with the best hemp products available,” Manitoba Harvest President Jared Simon said. “Developing plant-based protein products with superior taste, functionality and nutrition aligns perfectly with our objectives as a brand, and we have a history of leadership at the farm level, working directly with growers to improve quality throughout the hemp supply chain.”

This is Protein Industries Canada’s 24th project announcement, and their 22nd under their Technology stream. Together with industry, they have invested more than $377 million to the Canadian plant-based food, feed and ingredients sector.