Canola meal: from byproduct to valuable co-product

A new type of canola with a meal similar to soybean meal promises a major breakthrough into the vast livestock feed market.

Researchers are also working hard on other aspects of the meal to capture fast-growing opportunities in the human food market, which is hot for protein.

After years of development and testing DowDuPont plans the full commercial launch its ProPound canola line next year.

The meal from the new canola has 44 percent protein compared to 37 percent in standard varieties. Soybean meal has 47 percent.

ProPound meal will also have less fibre, addressing another negative attribute of traditional canola meal.

DowDuPont says the higher protein level, which was derived through traditional plant breeding, does not interfere with the line’s seed yield or oil content.

The trait will be used in DowDuPont’s Nexera canola line. The company already has test marketed the product and hopes to eventually transition the whole Nexera line to ProPound material.

Because of its lower protein content and high fibre, traditional canola meal suffers a discount of about 30 percent relative to soy meal.

DowDuPont hopes its product will narrow the discount to 10 percent.

The new product should widen the range of livestock that can eat canola meal.

Dairy cattle are now the dominant market for canola meal. Indeed, canola meal provides superior results over the soy product in that application.

Also, new research shows that traditional canola meal can be included at higher inclusion rates in the feed rations of other livestock species with good results.

The higher protein profile of ProPound should provide a major breakthrough in capturing a larger part of the feed market for hogs and poultry.

The Canadian livestock market would be the natural first step to target but there could also be opportunities in American feed markets distant from main soybean-growing regions, such as California.

A stronger market for the meal should allow crushers to pay more for canola seed. And a wider range of customers should provide better stability of price.

But it does not stop there.

Researchers at the University of Manitoba are working to modify the content of canola protein to make it suitable for human food.

Canola’s oil has long been the most valuable component of the seed. But plant scientist Rob Duncan said in a university newsletter that the change could “transform canola meal from a byproduct to a high value co-product.”

The proteins in canola meal have great opportunities as food ingredients because of their ability to act as agents in emulsifying, gelling, binding, foaming as well as the ability to form transparent solutions.

Various market research studies show that global plant protein demand in human food is growing at between 5.7 and 7.2 percent annually. That is much faster than population growth and shows the potential of this new field, that already is providing optimism and investment in the pulse industry.

All of this should help Canada’s canola industry pursue its goal of increasing production to 26 million tonnes annually by 2025, up from a current range of about 19-21 million tonnes.

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