A pea-processing operation in Manitoba will soon be supplying its protein to some of the most popular plant-based products in stores.
The French company Roquette said its $600-million Portage la Prairie, Man., facility is the largest of its kind in the world.
Roquette already has a site in Vic-sur-Aisne, France, which currently provides pea protein to plant-based producer Beyond Meat and other companies that produce meat, fish and dairy alternatives.
Joe Orangis, who oversees maintenance at the Canadian plant, said about 125,000 metric tonnes of organic and conventional yellow peas are expected to be processed from growers across Western Canada each year.
“We do about nine to 12 trucks of raw pea per day,” he said.
Organis has been at the plant since the early days of its construction, which broke ground in 2017.
He said he’s excited to be working with state-of-the-art equipment that the company does not allow pictures or video of.
“Very, very proprietary equipment, very, very high-end and high-tech,” Orangis said. “The automated system is something I’ve never seen before.”
The facility has 200,000 square feet of built space on a 200-acre parcel of land and has halal and kosher certification. Roquette is working towards finalizing the plant’s organic certification by the end of 2021.
Radhika Kapoor, who works at the on-site microbiology lab, moved from India for the job last year.
The microbiologist said pea protein is growing in popularity.
“I would say the future is all the pea protein,” Kapoor said. “People are more health conscious now so this is a perfect option for them.”
Roquette said it chose the Manitoba location because of its location, access to hydroelectric power and availability of skilled workers.
The company is aiming to have pea protein available in November for sampling, while the plant is expected to reach full production capacity in early 2022.
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