A $225 million plant protein processing facility is to be built in Strathmore, Alberta.
Phyto Organix is set to break ground on the 15-acre facility, which the company says will be net-zero, in fall of 2022.
Chris Theal, founder, president, and CEO of Phyto Organix, says the investment will generate over $120 million of annual GDP, and employ around 80 Albertans. The cost will be shared by the provincial and federal governments through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP), to support engineering costs and the purchase of equipment.
Theal says they will source the target crop — which is yellow peas — from the local farmers in the area.
“We’ll bring those peas on to the facility location, we’ll store them — probably have about two and a half weeks of storage on site. We take the peas, we clean, and we de-hull them and then they go into a wet solution, and just through a chemical change and heat, the peas solubilizes. It breaks into the constituent parts being protein, starch, and fibre. And each go through their own dewatering and drying phases to have three streams of product that come out the other end: a protein isolate, a processed fibre, and a starch. They are all highly pure and functional,” Theal explains.
Nate Horner, Minister of Alberta Agriculture, Forestry, and Rural Economic Development, says he’s pleased to support the facility as this is a sector strategy for agriculture, and it’s something they want to double down on going forward.
“I know as a farmer, before I got involved in politics, I wanted to see more of what we were seeing in Saskatchewan and other jurisdictions. Let’s value add here close to home, and with all of the issues with supply chains and resiliency, it really just brings that even more to the forefront. We need to do more with these products here closer to home,” he says, adding there is 180 different projects that the Alberta Agriculture department is currently working on.
“We’re trying to work as team Alberta to land these investments, but no specific area. If it’s ag related, and it’s value added, we’re trying to land it.”
In phase one of engineering, Phyto Organix did a lifecycle assessment that allowed them to determine the net zero portion of the facility. Another aspect for choosing Strathmore, says Theal, is it being in the “yellow pea heartland” of Alberta.
“We’ve got five times our plant capacity within 75 kilometres of Strathmore, and that’s low freight cost. It’s low GHG’s on trucking. And we’ll work with farmers in terms of our procurement and traceability and farmers, but it helps farmers have a better operating margin at the end of the day.”
Check out the conversation between Minister Horner, Chris Theal, and RealAgriculture’s Kara Oosterhuis, below: