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Faba bean the latest addition to plant protein feedstock development


July 2, 2021
By Top Crop Manager

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The first protein fractionation plant for faba beans will soon be in operation. An existing mill from the former Mountain Meadows Pea Butter facility near Legal, Alta., just north of Edmonton, has been acquired by Faba Canada Ltd. under a lease to purchase agreement. In addition to faba bean protein, the facility will continue producing a substitute for peanut butter, with the feedstock switched from peas to faba beans.

“This is just the initial step in bringing value-added processing to faba beans,” stated Brad Goudy, president of Faba Canada, in a press release. “The plant protein industry is rapidly expanding and faba beans have a number of competitive advantages over field peas that currently dominate the protein fractionation business in Canada.”

Faba beans have a much higher protein level than peas. Faba Canada will be able to produce dry milled product with 70 per cent protein. Peas can only reach that level of protein with the addition of much more expensive wet-milled product.

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Faba Canada has distribution control of a unique, new variety of faba beans called Fabelles, from which an anti-nutritional property called vicine/convicine has been 99 per cent removed using traditional breeding methods. This type of faba bean has been rebranded by Faba Canada as “Polar Beans.”

Peas have a strong, unpleasant aftertaste and as a result food companies often add strong taste modifying ingredients to mask the problem. Faba beans also have an aftertaste, and although milder, it is still apparent. Faba Canada owns a proprietary process to remove the aftertaste. The process is natural, does not include chemicals and is unique to the industry.

Over the past seven years, Faba Canada (and its predecessor, Goudy Ag Products) has been one of the largest buyers and sellers of faba beans in Western Canada, collaborating with a few hundred producers. Domestic value-added processing will improve producer profitability.

“Our first facility will draw faba beans from the Parkland regions of both Alberta and Saskatchewan, with more processing capacity on the drawing board,” Goudy said. “The area of faba beans in the two provinces is only about 100,000 acres, but we anticipate up to a million acres in the not-too-distant future.”

A profitable, nitrogen-fixing pulse crop adapted to the Parkland region will give producers a viable alternative to canola, taking some rotational pressure off that important Prairie crop.

The Faba Canada facility north of Edmonton is expected to be in operation by October. Plans call for the processing of 16,000 tonnes of faba beans in the first year with volumes ramping up quickly thereafter.