Funding announced for Roquette pea, Prairie Fava collaboration

Protein Industries Canada to co-fund $19.2 million research, development and expansion project between processing giant and local company

An influx of cash from Protein Industries Canada will help a Glenboro company expand their fava bean processing operation while collaborating with Roquette to develop new uses for the plant protein.

Hailey Jefferies.
photo: Supplied

“We’re very excited what the future will bring with fava,” said Hailey Jefferies, CEO of Prairie Fava, a processor based in Glenboro, in a news conference on June 19.

In a $19.2 million project—half from Protein Industries Canada—Prairie Fava will expand their existing site to increase production of capacity and efficiency, said Jeffries. They will also collaborate with pea-processing giant Roquette to find new ways to use fava protein and combine it with pea protein.

Roquette is constructing a pea-processing plant near Portage la Praire, which is expected to start up late 2020.

“There’s interesting properties of fava, and there’s definitely interesting properties when you combine the two–fava and pea,” said Jefferies.

Dominique Baumann.
photo: Supplied

Roquette has labs across the world to work with customers to develop recipes and find solutions, said Dominque Baumann, Canada managing director at Roquette. Roquette will look at how it can blend pea protein with fava beans to create an optimal amino acid profile, he said.

There might also be potential to buy processed beans from Prairie Fava for further processing, he added.

Prairie Fava began in order to develop ways for producers to market fava, said Jefferies. Her partner, Cale Jefferies, had a seed business and often encountered farmers who wanted to plant fava because of its nitrogen-fixing abilities, and its use in their crop rotations but struggled to find markets to sell it.

Jefferies said since Prairie Fava began processing in late 2017, demand for whole beans, splits beans and flour has grown steadily, particularly in snack and baking markets. Fava flour has a neutral taste and is high in protein, making it useful in gluten-free flour blends, she said.

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More work is still needed in terms of agronomics and developing food-industry demand, Jefferies added.

“It’s still in its infancy,” said Baumann of fava protein, “but you know pea protein was in its infancy 15 years ago, and it’s really taking off. It takes a lot of time to develop, a lot of R and D, and this is where we are with the rest of the proteins from plants.”

About the author

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Geralyn Wichers

Geralyn Wichers grew up on a hobby farm near Anola, Manitoba, where her family raised cattle, pigs and chickens. Geralyn graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in 2019 and was previously a reporter for The Carillon in Steinbach. Geralyn is also a published author of science fiction and fantasy novels.

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