Canadian reputation helps Avena reach global market success

Photo provided by Avena Foods.

Avena Foods was built on collaborative innovation. Its pulse business traces its roots back to 1936 and its oat business was established in 2008. The plant-based ingredient processor has maintained its focus on partnering with farmers and manufacturers, making it one of Canada’s most highly regarded agrifood companies.

That reputation and commitment to collaboration continues today. Through multiple Protein Industries Canada projects, Avena Foods has partnered with companies across Canada and around the world to develop new pulse and oat ingredients for use in a wide variety of foods and beverages—helping solidify Canada’s leadership in the global supply of plant-based food, pet food and ingredients.

“Realizing the full potential of these specialty milled pulse and oat ingredients requires a lot of work that is done in close collaboration with our customers and supply chain partners every step of the way,” Avena Foods CEO Gord Flaten said. “It includes discovering the most promising applications, conducting initial trials, gauging customer response, confirming processing parameters, developing indicative tests, and repeating until we and our customers are satisfied with the results.”

Through its Protein Industries Canada projects, Avena Foods has developed specialty milled oat and pulse flours for use in a variety of applications, ranging from baked goods, to snacks, to sauces, to plant-based beverages and meat alternatives. While these end products will soon be making their way to Canadian grocery store shelves, Flaten is pleased that their Canadian reputation has helped them find a home in international markets.

“We have a significant number of international customers, and they’re important to our business,” Flaten said. “Each market has its own particular needs. The products that are popular with consumers in other parts of the world can be significantly different than what’s going on the shelves in Canada or in the United States. It’s important to go beyond North America when we think about growing the market for Canadian food ingredients.”

One notable benefit of the Protein Industries Canada projects is that they have enabled Avena to establish a Research and Development department.

Initially focused on specialty milled flours, Flaten said the department is helping to expand product lines through new crops or new ingredients.

In the meantime, Avena will continue to work with their partners—as well as potential new collaborators—to determine what opportunities may lie ahead.

“You have to be broad-minded as you start these projects, experiment, identify where the successes and the possibilities are, and then focus on those, while also being open to new opportunities,” Flaten said.