Tempered flour seen as new market for pulses

A Regina company hopes to capture some of the large market for wheat flour by using lentils, peas, chickpeas and beans

A Regina food ingredient creator and processor is boosting its efforts to develop new uses for prairie pulse crops.

“The potential market is huge,” said Gord Flaten, chief executive officer of Avena Foods.

“There are hundreds of millions of tonnes of flour consumed in the world.”

Some of that mostly wheat-based flour could be displaced by the pulse crops western Canadian farmers produce, such as that from lentils, peas, chickpeas and dry beans, Flaten said.

Avena has just begun a $6.3 million project with partners Big Mountain Foods, Daiya Foods, Bakenology and The Village Bakery to develop new “tempered flours” to be used in plant-based products. Protein Industries Canada is providing some of the funding.

Tempered flours are food ingredients that are ready-to-eat, non-allergenic and designed to replace existing ingredients, such as eggs in baked products.

Avena’s partners are a combination of Canadian and companies from the United Kingdom.

“Quality there is key,” said Michelle Briggs, Avena’s representative in the U.K., where the company sells its products to bakery companies such as The Village Bakery in Wales.

“For them it’s not so much about cost. It’s quality.”

That’s true as well for Vancouver’s Big Mountain Foods, another partner in this research venture.

“We all share a common value to create a more sustainable and healthier world with the use of Canadian pulses,” said Jasmine Byrne, vice-president of Big Mountain.

Big Mountain Foods describes itself with “We make allergen-free products powered by plants.”

Their food development partner, Daiya Foods, which plans to open a 400,000 sq. foot facility in January, sees great growth ahead for functional foods.

“We’re always looking for new functional ingredients,” said Paul Wong, Daiya’s chief innovation officer.

“Anyone can make products, but to make ingredients taste really good, that’s where the key is to being successful.”

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