Orders are coming in from around the world for PIP International's new all-natural plant-based pea protein.
PIP International is an ag tech company based out of Lethbridge focusing in on pea processing.
CEO Christine Lewington says they've cracked the code and developed a pea-based protein that promises to revolutionize plant-based food products.
They've been able to remove the protein from the pea while leaving the starch and fibre behind.
"Our protein has high functionality, so it gels well, and binds well. It's 100% soluble. So you can put it in beverages, and it's completely dissolved and it stays dissolved. That's very unique about our protein as well. So you can up the protein content. I mean, we put it in our water here at PIP, so we have protein water. Just for fun, we've made ice creams that are very smooth, because the other protein has a very bad texture. It's grainy, you can taste it, and consumers don't like that. So the bad taste, the bitter, the grainy, the poor functionality. We've solved that. And we've often said we've cracked the code, we figured out how to do that in a more cost-effective way, which therefore provides to the consumer an affordable plant-based option. That tastes great."
So far, PIP has already garnered support from the Canadian government and interest from South Korea.
As well, 39 private companies have also entered or are negotiating contracts with the company to use its product.
"They use our protein as an ingredient. So they come to us and we have just commissioned our pilot facility in Lethbridge. We just got an order for 150 metric tons today and that's 15 pallets. They take that and they put it into their processing lines and they develop products around it."
Lewington points out that because their pea protein is now so highly functional, one client has been able to remove four of their ingredients and replaced it with PIP's food proteins.
In June, the company received $1 million from the Alberta government towards a $20-million pea-processing pilot facility in Lethbridge, where they bought a craft brewery.
In just a few short months they converted it into a wet fractionation processing facility, and the first shipment out of that plant leaves today.
The plant is now a fully continuous automated processing facility at a small scale, processing over 5000 metric tons of peas and turning out over 1000 metric tons of pea protein.
She notes they had started ground work previously on a much larger $150-million processing facility, but put that on hold so they could expand the current pilot facility and get the product out the door immediately to end-use customers.
Lewington says they hope to begin focusing on the detailed engineering for the larger plant by the end of January.
Once the larger processing plant is complete they will be able to increase the company’s production to 126,000 tonnes per year of yellow peas, which would make it the highest capacity plant of any facility in the world.
She points out that with the growing demand for their pea protein, they need a constant supply of raw products.
PIP International has partnered with Monette Farms at Swift Current (Saskatchewan) to negotiate and source all raw products from farmers in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
"So farmers, I'll be able to direct to Monette Farms and they'll handle the contracts. Monette Farms just guarantees PIP that they are going to get, you know, peas on this day, this time, and in this specification. So it's a great partnership."
Lewington says farmers in Saskatchewan and Alberta are really going to win on this, it's over $100 million in direct to the farmer in sales and contracts.
To hear Glenda-Lee's conversation with PIP International's CEO Christine Lewington click on the link below.