PIP International opens a US$20M pea wet fractionation pilot facility in Alberta

CANADA—PIP International, a Canadian-based agrifood company, is opening a US$20 million yellow pea wet fractionation pilot facility and commercial testing centre in Lethbridge, Alberta. 

The Canadian-based agri-food company was awarded $1 million via the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to support engineering and the purchase of processing equipment for the pilot facility as part of its Emerging Opportunities program to support the local economy.

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Officials say the center will provide a way for Canadian farmers, who are investing more and more of their time and effort into producing pulse crops, to create new and higher-value products “closer to home.”

“The Government of Canada’s investment in this innovative pilot facility will redefine plant-based protein for the region, support our economy and continue to position Canada as a global leader in sustainable production,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, the federal minister of agriculture and agri-food in a release.

Nate Horner, Alberta’s minister of agriculture, forestry and rural development, says the installation of the facility will create jobs and support economic diversity, as 100 new jobs are expected to be created once operations begin.

“With demand for plant-based foods increasing globally, investing in PIP’s pilot facility is part of a larger strategy to grow and diversify Alberta’s emerging agri-food sector. PIP’s new pilot facility is a stepping stone to a larger investment that will create new jobs and help grow Alberta’s budding plant protein sector,” he said.

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The pilot facility is the first step in a two-phase project. The facility will assist the company in testing its new extraction technology that aims to improve the quality, purity and environmental impact of the protein isolates before scaling up production.

CEO and founder of PIP International, Christine Lewington said taste is an important part of the project. The technology has cracked the code on pea protein’s poor taste, color, texture and compromised performance, according to a PIP news release. It said it can shift consumers’ enjoyment of plant-based foods.

Phase 2 will create a new US$150-million yellow pea protein facility in Lethbridge. Construction of the facility will begin in late 2022.

Once operational, the facility will process roughly 126,000 tonnes of yellow peas annually and support more than US$75 million in annual pea contracts for local and regional growers.

Lethbridge Mayor, Blaine Hyggen said the facility will attract international attention and bring people to Lethbridge and could allow some post-secondary graduates to find work in the community.

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