Plant-based foods are fast securing a spot in mainstream as more and more consumers ditch meat – either full time or flexitime – for both their health and that of the environment.
This is driving the pea protein market, forecast to hit $2.9bn by 2027, according to MarketsandMarkets.
However, demand is projected to outpace supply due to the large investment needed to build the capital-intensive isolate processing facilities required to extract food-grade pea protein from commodity crops.
The partnership between the FoodTech company and independent seed producer connects two important ends of the value chain and aims to solve the root cause of the supply and quality gap.
According to Oron Gar, Equinom’s chief operations officer, this is the first time this kind of end-to-end, identity preserved supply chain has been formed for yellow pea.
Unlock growth for plant-based category
Equinom brings a wealth of know-how and advanced expertise in developing ultra-high protein yellow pea varieties to the forum, while Peterson Farms Seed has built a reputation as a seasoned industry leader and today is the largest independent seed company in the tri-state region of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.
The agreement opens an exciting opportunity to scale up production and commercialise innovative plant proteins to unlock growth for the plant-based foods category.
Equinom developed its Manna tech platform to cultivate ingredients from the source, with no genetic engineering.
Leveraging a seed vault with thousands of seed varieties, the Israeli company breeds new source crops optimised not just for farming efficiency, but also for taste and nutrition.
Manna utilises AI to identify desirable traits for food applications and predict the best cross-breeding matches. As a result, pea protein made with Equinom’s high-protein and nutrient-dense yellow pea varieties does not require the typical heavy and energy intensive processing.
The advantages are obvious: Minimal processing enables food companies to meet consumer demand for more affordable and planet friendly options.
Equinom has supplied foundation seeds of its proprietary, non-GMO yellow pea varieties to Peterson Farms Seed, which are being propagated on 700 acres of farms within its regional grower network. The produced seed and grain will be ready for harvest in early fall.
These will create the foundation of minimally processed pea-protein ingredients sold by ingredient processors, and can be used in food applications that have typically relied primarily on isolates.
Game-changing, minimally processed ingredients
“This collaboration with Peterson Farms Seeds is a major step toward achieving our larger ambition - to help make our food system sustainable and accessible for a growing population,” said Equinom’s Gar.
“With their exemplary quality standards, Peterson Farms Seeds is the perfect collaborator to help us take this major step towards commercialising our game-changing, minimally processed pea protein ingredients.”
While the initial agreement focuses on yellow peas, the companies plan to explore additional opportunities in commercialising more accessible food-grade pea proteins. Equinom is on a mission to create plant-based ingredients that are truly better for people and the planet.
“At Peterson Farms Seed, we take pride in our capabilities to produce quality, identity preserved (IP) seeds with our experienced network of farmers,” said Carl Peterson, president of Peterson Farms Seed.
“The opportunity to connect our knowledge and passion with the innovative approach Equinom has taken to cultivate source crops optimised for food applications was one we couldn’t pass up.
“We see offering value-added crops as a necessary step as we collectively work toward creating a more sustainable and equitable food system for farmers and consumers alike.”