My last two columns focused on pulses and the end-use markets opening up for their basic components like starch and protein. There’s a world of opportunity that’s open to growers if they choose to take advantage of it. End use markets for pulse-related products are becoming big business.

Once growers and others get over the fear of diversifying their business and exploring new possibilities, they can work with the right process equipment company to help them make this a reality. I’m lucky to have had the experience working in this department; equipment providers with access to the full range of equipment needed to process pulses are few and far between.

The conversation Can-Seed often has with clients revolves around the opportunity of value-add opportunities. Splitting, dehulling/cracking and roller milling capabilities can add some additional value to an existing operation, so clients are getting more margin out of what they are already handling.

There’s a reason so much processing of pulses revolves around field peas. Field peas aren’t that visually appealing, and a lot of people aren’t fond of the texture. Still, Canada is the world’s top producer of them from an acreage standpoint. It only makes sense to create a value-add system where more people are milling this product and getting it into other markets.

Most of the pulse and other niche crop food ingredient production happens in Western Canada and the American Midwest. This includes a variety of other commodities like lentils and quinoa as well.  Using peas as an example, if you isolate an 80 per cent pure protein product out of a shipment of field peas, you’re only using 20 or 30 per cent of the pea. The rest is starch.

To me it only makes sense to have that starch production be closer to where the peas are grown, isolate the food ingredient and ship it out to companies to use in protein fortification.  If that opportunity is not readily available then the starch can be sold into the many feed markets that exist in Western Canada. Keeping that beginning process closer to where the production is a win for producers and for Canada in general.

In the coming years, starch and protein extraction from peas and pulses in general will only grow. Canadian producers should be at the forefront of this. Can-Seed can help them do that.

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