A $225 million plant-based protein plant is heading to Strathmore, Alberta.
Phyto Organix is poised to break ground on the 15-acre net-zero factory in fall 2022.
Chris Theal, founder, president and CEO of Phyto Organix, says the investment will generate more than $120 million in annual GDP and employ about 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 pea – from local farmers in the area.
“We’ll bring those peas to the facility site, we’ll store them — we’ll probably have about two and a half weeks of on-site storage. We take the peas, we clean them and we shell them, then they pass through a wet solution, and just through chemical change and heat, the peas solubilize. It breaks down into the building blocks being protein, starch and fiber. And each goes through its own phases of dehydration and drying to have three streams of product coming out the other side: a protein isolate, a processed fiber, and a starch. They are all very pure and functional,” says Theal.
Nate Horner, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development for Alberta, says he is happy to support the facility because it is a sectoral strategy for agriculture, and it is something they want to double down on in the future.
“I know that as a farmer, before getting involved in politics, I wanted to know more about what we were seeing in Saskatchewan and other jurisdictions. Let’s add value here close to home, and with all the issues around supply chains and resilience, that brings that even more to the fore. We need to do more with these products here, closer to home,” he says, adding that Alberta Agriculture is currently working on 180 different projects.
“We try to work as an Alberta team to get these investments, but not in a specific area. If it’s related to agriculture and it’s value-added, we try to get it.
In the first phase of engineering, Phyto Organix carried out a life cycle assessment which allowed them to determine the net zero part of the installation. Another aspect of Strathmore’s choice, Theal says, is that it’s in Alberta’s “yellow pea heartland.”
“We have five times the capacity of our plant within a 75 kilometer radius of Strathmore, and that’s a low cost of transportation. There are few GHGs in trucking. And we will work with the farmers in terms of sourcing and traceability and with the farmers, but it helps the farmers to have a better operating margin at the end of the day. »
Check out the conversation between Minister Horner, Chris Theal and Kara Oosterhuis of RealAgriculture, below: