Protein Industries Canada leads partnership to develop hemp varieties for plant-based food
New partnership to develop pea and hemp varieties for ingredient processing Investment will increase protein content and improve functionality of Canadian pea and hemp varieties
Today, Protein Industries Canada announced a partnership to help build on the use of pea and hemp in plant-based food and ingredients. NRGene Canada, Farmers Business Network Canada, Inc., Pulse Genetics and Manitoba Harvest are coming together to develop new pea and hemp varieties for use in food and ingredient processing, including a new pea-hemp flour blend. The partners will focus on increasing the protein content and improving the starch content and texture of ingredients derived from the new varieties, potentially increasing their use in plant-based foods and beverages across Canada and internationally.
“With this project, Canada’s small and medium-sized enterprises are once again showing us that they are at the forefront of innovation in the plant-based protein industry,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “This collaboration will enable the partners to develop products and create new plant-protein varieties more rapidly and at a lower cost, helping meet the demands of Canadians and offering them more choices for high-protein plant-based products at their local grocery stores.”
“Canada’s agricultural sector is a global frontrunner in innovative research, creating new agri-food ingredients and products, developing new marketing opportunities, and adding value to Canadian-grown commodities. This partnership between Canada’s pea and hemp sectors will work to develop new varieties of both commodities, improving their protein and starch contents, and opening up new opportunities in plant-based foods and beverages,” said Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau.
Pulse Genetics will focus on improving Canada’s well-established pea sector, while Farmers Business Network Canada, Inc. will focus on the country’s growing hemp sector; both will utilize NRGene’s genomics technology in their efforts to develop new varieties. While commercialization of the new varieties won’t occur until after the project’s completion, Manitoba Harvest will work with existing varieties to develop a pea-hemp flour blend that will become a base formulation they will improve upon once access to the new varieties becomes available.
“Through this project, NRGene, Farmers Business Network Canada, Inc., Pulse Genetics and Manitoba Harvest are displaying the diverse commodities Canada has to offer, while also helping meet the needs of food manufacturers and consumers,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said. “By focusing on an established protein crop, like peas, and one that’s still growing in popularity, like hemp, they’re helping diversify our sector even further—an important step in opening new markets and establishing the country as a leader in meeting consumer plant-based food demands.”
The development of these new varieties, as well as the pea-hemp flour blend, is expected to create new market opportunities along Canada’s plant-based food and ingredients value chain, including for farmers, ingredient processors and food manufacturers. The utilization and scaling up of NRGene’s genomics technology will also supply researchers and crop breeders with advanced breeding tools that will shorten breeding cycles, particularly for pea and hemp varieties. NRGene, Farmers Business Network Canada, Inc., Pulse Genetics and Manitoba Harvest are together investing $3.3 million into the project, with Protein Industries Canada investing an additional $1.8 million. The total project investment is $5.1 million.
“We are thrilled to take part in this partnership that will advance the plant-based protein sector—one of the growing sectors impacting global sustainability,” NRGene CEO and Co-Founder Dr. Gil Ronen said. “This project is one of a kind, as it ties together companies from different stages of the industry value chain. The fact that we can apply NRGene’s cutting-edge genomics to help our partners naturally develop and grow varieties with characteristics required to the specific end-product—the pea-hemp flour blend—will bring to the market improved product in a significantly shorter time. I believe it will provide great value and global advantage to the Canadian alternative protein industry.”
“At FBN, we're constantly striving to provide our members with as many options as possible to maximize their operation's profit potential," FBN Direct, Global, President Tom Staples said. "We're looking forward to collaborating with Protein Industries Canada to bring a range of new hemp varieties to market."
“As a newcomer to the plant breeding community, Pulse Genetics is excited to be a part of this strategic partnership which combines expertise to develop innovative new products for Canada’s fast-growing plant-based protein industry,” Pulse Genetics Owner Pete Giesbrecht said.
“As the largest and longest standing hemp brand in North America, we are committed to providing our customers with the best hemp products available,” Manitoba Harvest President Jared Simon said. “Developing plant-based protein products with superior taste, functionality and nutrition aligns perfectly with our objectives as a brand, and we have a history of leadership at the farm level, working directly with growers to improve quality throughout the hemp supply chain.” This is Protein Industries Canada’s 24th project announcement, and their 22nd under their Technology stream. Together with industry, they have invested more than $377 million to the Canadian plant-based food, feed and ingredients sector. About NRGene Canada NRGene Canada is NRGene's subsidiary in Saskatoon, Canada, providing Canadian partners with NRGene's cutting-edge AI-based genomic tools, which are reshaping agriculture and livestock worldwide. Their cloud-based software solutions are designed to analyze big data generated by next-generation sequencing technologies in an affordable, scalable and precise manner. Coupled with a genomics lab and on-site capabilities, NRGene Canada is focusing on Canadian specialty crops such as canola, wheat, soybean, cannabis and more, and accelerates their breeding programs to significantly increase crop yield and save time and money for NRGene’s partners.
About Farmers Business Network Canada, Inc. Farmers Business Network, Inc. is an independent ag tech platform and farmer-to-farmer network with a mission to power the prosperity of family farmers around the world, while working towards a sustainable future. Its Farmers First promise has attracted more than 27,000 members to the network with a common goal of maximizing their farm’s profit potential. FBN has set out to redefine value and convenience for farmers by helping reduce the cost of production and maximize the value of their crops.
The FBN network has grown to cover more than 70 million acres of member farms in the United States, Canada and Australia. Blending the best of Midwestern agricultural roots and Silicon Valley technology, the company has more than 600 personnel and offices in San Carlos, Calif., Chicago, Ill., Sioux Falls, S.D., a Canadian Headquarters in High River, Alta. and an Australian Headquarters in Perth. “FBN”, “FBN Direct” and “Farmers First” are registered trademarks of Farmers Business Network, Inc.
About Pulse Genetics Pulse Genetics, based in Winkler, Man., is a plant breeding company focused on developing elite green and yellow field pea lines with solid agronomics and improved protein. The breeding program was initiated in 2010, and its operations officially became known as Pulse Genetics in 2018. With a focus on creativity and collaboration, newly created partnerships and investment in infrastructure will support the future development of innovative new pea varieties for the plant protein sector.
About Manitoba Harvest Founded in 1998, Manitoba Harvest is a pioneer and leader in branded, hemp-based foods, with the fastest-growing products in the global hemp food market. The company's all-natural product portfolio includes hemp hearts (shelled hemp seed), hemp protein, hemp protein blends, wellness bars, granola and hemp oil. Manitoba Harvest's products are sold globally, including in approximately 17,000 retail stores across the United States and Canada.
Manitoba Harvest is a Certified B Corporation and the first Canadian food company to attain a CarbonZero Certification. A wholly owned subsidiary of Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ | TSX: TLRY), Manitoba Harvest is a mission-based company dedicated to inspiring and empowering the worldwide community to live their very best life by providing them with products that meet the needs of their mind, body and soul and invoke a sense of wellbeing.