Avena Press Release: Protein Industries Canada invests $6.3 million to develop plant-based consumer products using innovative functional flour tempering system


Regina, Sask. — Protein Industries Canada (PIC) announced a $6.3million investment in Avena’s tempered functional pulse and oat flours which are poised to help meet the fast-growing market demand for plant-based protein ingredients, and commercial food products. Canada has a strong supply chain from farmers to food manufacturers, and this project hopes to build on that by addressing knowledge gaps that prevent these ingredients from reaching their full potential.

Consortium partners, Avena Foods, Big Mountain FoodsDaiya FoodsBakenology and The Village Bakery, will work to better understand and take advantage of these functional whole plant-based ingredients – researching which seed varieties serve as best inputs in terms of flour functionality, optimizing processing methods, and formulating consumer products. The project will benefit Canadians across the plant-protein and agrifood sectors, from farmers to consumers.

“I am delighted to see the Protein Supercluster continuing to help enhance our agri-food sector with tangible benefits for consumers. This new project, which includes two small and medium-scale enterprises, will offer consumers a wider choice of pulse-based products in addition to meeting the needs of processors so they can grow markets both in Canada and internationally,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

“This collaboration will benefit the entire Canadian plant protein supply chain, from improving efficiency for farmers and processors, to getting high-quality plant-based food made from a new Canadian creation to consumers,” Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau said. “By supporting innovative projects such as this, our government is ensuring our vibrant agriculture sector stays on the cutting edge.”

Big Mountain Foods and Daiya Foods, both based out of Vancouver, B.C., will utilize the flours in the development of new products for the growing vegan and flexitarian markets, both in North America and overseas. Bakenology and The Village Bakery, based in the United Kingdom, will utilize the Canadian plant-protein ingredients in food products that will be shipped across Europe.

Making investments that generate returns for the entire value chain is part of PIC’s mandate.

“Creating new product applications for Canadian plant proteins drives demand and generates value to our entire industry, from farms to grocery shelves,” CEO of Protein Industries Canada Bill Greuel said. “This project brings together a diverse set of companies, including two international partners, that will utilize these ingredients in products for overseas markets. This aligns with our mission to support Canada’s transition from a commodity supplier to a leading supplier of plant-based ingredients.”

Avena Foods’ tempered pulse products undergo a thermal-treatment process that improves flavour and functionality. For example, this system will be used in the development of a pulse-based egg replacement, and have the potential to be applied in a wide range of food products such as bakery, extruded snacks, confectionary, noodles and pasta, plant-based meat analogues, soups, sauces and dressings, baby food and specialty applications such as flavorings.

“We are thrilled to be launching this project with customers, farmers, employees, service providers, technical experts and Protein Industries Canada,” Avena Foods CEO Gord Flaten said. “Support from PIC is critical in transitioning Avena’s tempered flours from promising food ingredients to an innovative suite of clean-label, nutritious and functional ingredients for food manufacturers. This project will open up a new, important market for farmers and provide significant benefits to consumers.”

“Big Mountain Foods is focused on innovating clean label and allergen-free products to provide consumers with a healthy plant-based lifestyle. With the assistance of Avena Foods and Protein Industries Canada we are confident we can provide this,” Big Mountain Foods Vice President Jasmine Byrne said.

“More and more people are discovering the myriad benefits of plant-based eating,” Daiya Foods Chief Innovation Officer Paul Wong said. “With partners like Avena Foods, we can continue raising the bar to deliver a superior product experience for our consumers. We want everyone to know how easy and delicious it can be to incorporate plant-based options into everyday menus.”

“Bakenology Blends is proud to be a member of Protein Industries Canada and be a participant in the Avena project,” Bakenology Owner and Director Ken Laidlaw said. “Our aim is to develop pulse-based egg alternatives using Canadian-sourced raw materials that possess the same functional properties as whole egg. We will promote these alternatives for use in sweet and specialty bakery applications for the growing vegan category.”

“The Village Bakery is delighted to be involved in the project and will have a specific focus on gluten free bread and rolls development. Our aim is to replace egg with clean label pulse flours, to enable us to produce vegan products that do not compromise on quality or taste.” The Village Bakery NPD Gluten Free Manager Florence Roberts said.

This is the 14th project announced by Protein Industries Canada. Together with industry, Protein Industries Canada has committed more than $272 million to the Canadian plant-protein sector. They are currently accepting Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for research and capacity building projects as part of their third open call.

For more information:

Gabriel Valentini

Protein Industries Canada

Winnipeg, MB


About Avena Foods

Avena Foods Limited is a specialty miller that provides food, pet food and nutraceutical manufacturers with sustainably grown and milled purity protocol oat and functional gluten-free pulse ingredients. ‘For safe, healthy diets and a sustainable world.’

About Big Mountain Foods

Big Mountain Foods is proudly women owned and operated by mother-daughter duo Kimberly Chamberland and Jasmine Byrne. Kimberly and Jasmine have focused on product innovation while remaining true to their core value of creating food that they would proudly serve their own families. Products are sold fresh and can be found in national major retailers in the United States and Canada. BMF launched four new “Veggie Links” products across the nation in September 2020. All nine Big Mountain Foods products are gluten, nut and soy-free, certified vegan, and non-GMO.

Over the course of two years, the company has undergone an extensive rebrand of their products. Packaging now includes 40 per cent less plastic and 25 per cent less cardboard to reduce their carbon footprint.

Big Mountain Foods is now focusing on its people and putting together a diverse team to support the rapid growth. By 2022, the company also plans to run a zero-waste facility. Due to the rapid growth, Big Mountain Foods is expanding into a 70,000 sq. ft. facility to scale up its production capacity by 2021 and compete with other global plant-based brands.

About Daiya Foods

Daiya Foods was founded in 2008 with the belief: plant-based living is better for our health, better for the planet and better for animal welfare. An industry leader in innovative plant-based foods, our products are all proudly free from dairy, gluten, soy and many other common allergens. Daiya Foods began as a pioneer in plant-based cheese and has since evolved as an innovator of products in a variety of categories for all eating occasions including pizza, frozen desserts, mac and cheese, burritos, salad dressings and more. Daiya’s selection of deliciously plant-based foods can be found in more than 25,000 grocery stores in the United States. Daiya’s products are also available in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, Hong Kong and more.

About Bakenology

Bakenology Blends is a small UK-based company that develops customized, concentrated ingredient blends that enable Bakery manufacturers producing Sweet and Speciality products to extend shelf life, enhance product freshness, create cleaner ingredient declarations or use consumer friendly ingredient alternatives.

About The Village Bakery

Based across three sites in North Wales, The Village Bakery is the producer of Breads, Pies and Morning Goods, along with dedicated Gluten Free Breads, Rolls and Morning Goods, under its own brand as well as working with larger clients to produce innovative and bespoke products under private label brands. Wales has an incredibly diverse heritage and through carefully designed baking processes, Village Bakery strives to replicate the country’s rich and distinctive culture through the traditional taste and quality of their products.

Due to ongoing expansion, Village Bakery now has large contracts with M&S, Waitrose, Tesco, Morrisons, Co-op (UK), Sainsbury’s and ASDA, across Gluten Free and Conventional products. Village Bakery has also built in 2018 a dedicated gluten-free production facility heavily dominated by retailer own-label contracts.