MINNEAPOLIS — Cargill wants in on plant-based meats in a bigger way.
The agribusiness is investing an additional $75 million in Puris, the nation’s largest supplier of pea protein, a key ingredient in well-known products like the Beyond Burger.
Minneapolis-based Puris will use the funds to add capacity to its existing 200,000-square-foot Dawson, Minn., processing plant, doubling the company’s pea production by late 2020.
It’s a crucial step for Puris as it tries to remain ahead of booming demand for its pea protein, starches and fibers. Beyond Meat, which became the year’s hottest new stock after going public in May, promised investors in its IPO filing that Puris, one of its key suppliers, would soon add production capacity.
As new companies emerge in this faux-meat space, demand is growing. Puris has a waiting list of companies that want its products. Executives decided several months ago to make Beyond Meat one of its “cornerstone customers.”
“This investment will grant Puris the ability to support more food companies, more farmers and more consumers faster,” Tyler Lorenzen, president of Puris, said in a statement.
Cargill, one of the world’s largest meat producers and a large maker of many food ingredients, sees the future opportunity as well.
“As consumer demand increases for plant-based proteins, we want to make sure that Cargill, with our partner Puris, can deliver on that demand,” said Laurie Koenig, Cargill’s texturizers and specialty lead. “This investment also provides significant support to the local economy with approximately 90 new jobs and a new revenue stream for Midwest farmers.”
This marks Cargill’s second investment in Puris. Cargill, the nation’s largest privately-held company, put in $25 million last year to add production capacity at Puris’ Turtle Lake, Wis., plant. In addition to Dawson and Turtle Lake, Puris also operates a pea-protein plant in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
Cargill has invested in a number of burgeoning alternatives to traditionally-raised meat products. The company also has a stake in several cell-based meat companies, like Aleph Farms and Memphis Meats. These products, sometimes called “cultured” or “lab-raised” meat or seafood, are grown using animal cells.
The Dawson plant is being converted from a dairy processing plant to a pea protein one.
“I am excited that Cargill and Puris are investing in the potential of Greater Minnesota communities like Dawson,” Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement. “Repurposing an existing facility for a new pea protein plant is an excellent example of the smart, sustainable innovation that has kept Minnesota on the forefront of the food production industry.”
Puris sources its non-GMO pea seed from more than 400 U.S. farmers. The peas it buys from farmers are converted into pea protein, pea starch and pea fiber.