Photo: Catherine Lamb

Mega-corporation and food producer Cargill has invested an additional $75 million into Puris, North America’s largest pea protein producer and supplier of Beyond Meat. This is the second investment Cargill has made in Puris, following a $25 million deal made in January 2018.

According to the press release, the new investment will allow Puris to “more than double its pea protein production” at the company’s Dawson, Minnesota plant.

The move lets Cargill keep pace with other food producers historically known for their roles in traditional meat production but who have lately set their sights on the alternative meat market, among them Tyson and Nestle.

More importantly, speeding up production will help Puris, not to mention Beyond, more easily fulfill demand for plant-based protein — a market that’s already been hampered by supply shortages in the past. In August of 2018, Beyond had to delay its UK launch due to supply shortages. More recently, Beyond’s chief competitor, Impossible, experienced its own supply issues that affected availability in restaurants.

While both those situations have been resolved, demand for plant-based meat keeps growing, and pea protein consumption by tonnage is expected to increase 300 percent by 2025. Puris president Tyler Lorenzen said in the press release that the Cargill investment will give his company “the ability to support more food companies, more farmers and more consumers faster.”

That said, production won’t speed up right away. Puris will have to first retrofit the Dawson facility to make it suitable for pea production, a process that will take time. The Dawson location is expected to be operational in “late 2020.”

How quickly makers of plant-based proteins can scale to meet demand may at some point require a change in the way they approach their ingredients. As Spoon contributor Christie Lagally noted over the weekend, “the plant-based meat industry has to stop ignoring how the veggie sausage gets made and adopt new machinery that’s actually optimized for the industry’s unique needs. When this happens, plant-based meat can finally become widely available at an accessible price.”

In the meanwhile, Puris operates two other pea-protein-focused facilities, one in Turtle Lake, Wisconson and the other in Oskaloosa. For now, those will have to be enough when it comes to helping Beyond keep pace with demand for plant-based meat.

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