How the benefits of innovation ripple out across the ecosystem

Roquette's Portage la Prairie facility in Manitoba. Photo provided by Roquette.

The value of building out Canada’s plant protein ingredient and food sector can’t be summed up in a straight line. It’s a multi-faceted ecosystem, where the benefits of innovation in one area ripple out to bring benefit to others.

The development of Roquette’s pea cream feed ingredient is one of the sector’s best examples. Made from Canadian pea protein, starch and fibres, the ingredient is approved as an energy and protein source for swine and cattle, and a potential replacement for soybean meal, canola meal, barley and corn.

More importantly, it’s a good part of the raw pea associated to the production of Roquette’s pea protein isolate—meaning the company has found a way to utilize all parts of the pea while reducing their transportation footprint and increasing their relationship with the Canadian agriculture and agrifood sectors.

“This new product is a perfect example of circular economy,” Roquette Account Manager for Animal Nutrition John Mickelson said. “We are using 100 per cent Canadian peas and are working directly with the pea growers to ensure the best quality with a short supply chain while supplying the Canadian feed industry with high-quality pea cream made with Canadian peas. Seventy per cent of our peas are grown in Manitoba and 100 per cent of our pea cream is sold in Manitoba.”

The company’s relationship with Manitoba farmers has been an important asset to Roquette and its pea cream ingredient since the company built its protein plant in Portage la Prairie in 2020. As the largest pea protein plant in the world, the facility requires a steady, high-quality supply of the crop. By sourcing such a significant percentage of their peas from Manitoba farmers, Roquette can reduce their GHG emissions and increase their contribution to the local economy.

This contribution doesn’t end at sourcing their peas, however. The Portage plant indirectly accounts for hundreds of full-time employees in the area, while also helping to attract other economic activity.

“Roquette in Canada is acting as a catalyst for economic growth in Portage la Prairie,” Mickelson said. “The plant has attracted several new businesses and people to the region. There have also been investments in infrastructure to support the plant and the increased economic activity associated with it.”

The benefits of fostering relationships with each the region and farmers have rippled back in to positively affect Roquette, as well. The company has grown since officially opening its Portage facility in 2021, and the success of the pea cream ingredient has led to the development of a new, dry version. Additionally, Mickelson said the company is developing new isolates for other pulses, which will generate new ingredients for human consumption and new feed ingredients.

While such development will mean navigating Canada’s regulatory system—which Mickelson added needs adjustments, particularly related to speed of approvals in order to become more competitive with the United States—the related work will foster a new branch of benefits for not only Roquette, but the entire plant-based ecosystem.