“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 François-Philippe Champagne, federal 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,” said PIC 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 PIC investing $2.2 million and the partners together investing the remaining portion.
“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,” said NPI COO Mark Hamelin.
“Huron Commodities is thrilled for the opportunity to participate in this project, which incorporates superior Ontario soybean genetics into domestic food ingredient production,” said Huron Commodities COO Adam VanderLoo.
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.”