Cargill said this week it is investing an additional $75 million in PURIS, the largest North American producer of pea protein. The investment enables PURIS to more than double its pea protein production using an existing 200,000 sq. ft. facility in Dawson, Minn. The investment, the company said, will position PURIS to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for its category-leading pea proteins, starches and fibers -- all grown and produced through its unique vertically integrated and transparent supply chain.
"This is more than a pea protein facility; this is the future of food. The Dawson facility will not only support PURIS farmers in the U.S. with a crop that regenerates their land and that is sustainable because it provides soil health advantages but will also support the growing demand for great-tasting plant-based products in the marketplace,” PURIS president Tyler Lorenzen said. “This investment will grant PURIS the ability to support more food companies, more farmers and more consumers faster.”
Laurie Koenig, Cargill texturizers and specialty lead, added, "As consumer demand increases for plant-based proteins, we want to make sure that Cargill, with our partner PURIS, can deliver on that demand with great-tasting, sustainable and label-friendly pea protein for customers in North America and across the world.”
The investment also provides significant support to the local economy, creating approximately 90 new jobs and a new revenue stream for Midwest farmers, Koenig added.
According to Cargill, consumers continue to fuel demand for label-friendly alternative proteins to meet their individual nutritional needs, while food and beverage manufacturers, in ever-increasing numbers, are turning to pea protein for its functional and nutritional attributes. The launch of new pea protein-based food and beverage products grew at a very healthy 19% compound annual growth rate globally from January 2016 to December 2018, according to Innova Market Insights. PURIS offers non-genetically modified (GM) and organic pea protein options that are known for their proprietary, high-quality, clean flavor. The products also have non-major food allergen and vegan features for consumers looking for label-friendly products across multiple food and beverage categories, the company said.
"Our investment in pea protein not only enhances our diverse portfolio of high-quality ingredients but also expands our opportunity to work with customers to make products that use a variety of our ingredients to satisfy consumers around the world," Koenig added.
Beginning with its own proprietary, non-GM pea seed, PURIS utilizes its network of more than 400 U.S. farmers to grow the peas, which not only provide economic benefits to the farmers but also help regenerate the soil. PURIS purchases the peas the farmers grow and turns the crops into pea ingredients, including pea protein, pea starch and pea fiber.
Lorenzen said, "While this is an important step in our growth for many reasons, one that resonates personally for me is to move ever closer to the vision my father had in 1985: a vision that plant-based nutrition would propel us to a better future for both people and our planet. With this investment, those possibilities are becoming realities, which, in turn, inspires us to create what's next for plants, people, planet and PURIS."
PURIS will now own and operate three facilities in North America focused solely on pea protein production: in Turtle Lake, Wis.; Oskaloosa, Iowa, and Dawson, Minn. With engineering completed at Dawson, construction to retrofit the facility for pea production will start immediately, with an anticipated operational start date of late 2020.
"I am excited that Cargill and PURIS are investing in the potential of greater Minnesota communities like Dawson," Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said. "Repurposing an existing facility for a new pea protein plant is an excellent example of the smart, sustainable innovation that has kept Minnesota on the forefront of the food production industry."
Cargill announced its joint venture with PURIS in January 2018, with an initial investment of $25 million that was used to add substantial capacity at the Turtle Lake production facility. Pea protein broadens Cargill's portfolio of alternative proteins, such as cell-cultured protein, to meet consumer dietary preferences, the company said.