Tempered oat & pulse flours – feature story from the new edition of ‘Food in Canada’

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Canada is known for many food products — poutine, maple syrup and much more — but if Protein Industries Canada (PIC) and many companies have their way, Canada will soon be renowned for its plant-based protein products (and ingredients as well).

Specifically, PIC recently made a $6.3 million investment in a new consortium that will work to better understand pulse flours as functional ingredients and develop new products containing these flours. This project is the fourteenth funded by PIC since it was created several years ago. Together with industry, PIC has committed more than $272 million to the Canadian plant-protein sector, and it’s currently accepting Expressions of Interest for research and capacity-building projects as part of its third open call.

During this project, Avena Foods Ltd. and its partners will research which pulse crop varieties are best in terms of flour functionality, processing methods and product formulation. Big Mountain Foods and Daiya Foods, both based in Vancouver B.C., will use the flours in new products for both North American and overseas markets. Bakenology and The Village Bakery, both based in the United Kingdom, will make products to be shipped across Europe.

The significance of having international partners in this project and other projects is “very important,” according to PIC CEO Bill Greuel. “In Western Canada, we export 90 per cent of our agricultural production, and export partners and international markets are critical. Building in those relationships from the start, so that Canadian businesses have direct access to international clients for our ingredients and products, is key. This helps us not only increase use and demand for our products, but also helps build Canada’s brand as the preferred supplier of plant-based ingredients and food.”

Indeed, international competition in plant-based protein is growing, says Greuel. “Canada has an advantage in that we are already an established grower of high-protein crops, like peas and lentils, and Canada is well-respected as a commodity supplier, but we are seeing more and more countries such as France and Singapore invest into plant-based protein as well,” he explains. “Canada is well positioned to meet the global demand for plant protein, but we must maintain our momentum.”