Regina, Sask., Feb. 26, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today, Protein Industries Canada announced an investment into the creation of new ingredient and food options for consumers. The project sees new oat and pulse ingredients created by Avena Foods being used by Big Mountain Foods, Danone Canada and Old Dutch to replace several common ingredients and processing aids in their respective products. The result will be new offerings for consumers, including allergy-friendly alternatives.

“The global food market is in need of sustainable and nutritious ingredients, and Canada is helping meet that demand,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “By supporting projects like this one, Protein Industries Canada, one of Canada’s global innovation clusters, is securing Canada’s position as a global supplier of plant-based ingredients.”

The total project will see $19.2 million invested into R&D related to ingredient manufacturing and the creation of new food products, with Protein Industries Canada investing $7.3 million. During the project, Avena will further optimize and refine specialty-milled oat and pulse flours, while also creating specialty-milled pulse grits, meals and flours that match each customer’s unique processes. These minimally processed ingredients will be used to reformulate and develop new consumer-ready food products that are nutritious and made from clean-label and sustainably sourced oat and pulse ingredients.

“Investment into ingredient manufacturing is an untapped economic opportunity for Canada, and this project is an example of what is possible when we take our widely-available Canadian crops such as pulses and oats to create new ingredients and food,” CEO of Protein Industries Canada Bill Greuel said. “With the scale-up of ingredient processing, we can produce ingredients with enhanced functionality that can better meet the demand of consumers when it comes to taste, texture and nutritional benefits.”

Old Dutch, Danone and Big Mountain Foods will use the optimized new ingredients from Avena to create new snack options and reformulated products, including yogurt, plant-based beverages and creamers, veggie links, cutlets, pastries, fillings and alternative non-soy/non-fava tofu products.

“Avena welcomes this investment from Protein Industries Canada, and the opportunity to work collaboratively with our customers. Our goal is to provide exactly what they need from our deck of functional and nutritious oat and pulse ingredients, and to further support them with sustainability metrics, such as life cycle assessment for our ingredients,” CEO of Avena Foods Wayne Arsenault said.

“Big Mountain Foods is on an exciting journey into the realm of food service, marking a historic milestone for our brand. With the invaluable support of Protein Industries Canada, we are poised to revolutionize the culinary landscape by crafting offerings tailored for the diverse needs of large institutions, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, restaurants, universities, and beyond. This expansion not only showcases our commitment to innovation but also underlines our dedication to providing wholesome, plant-based solutions that redefine the standards of nourishment in institutional settings. Together, we’re cooking up a future where everyone can savour the goodness of Big Mountain Foods, one custom creation at a time,” Big Mountain Foods COO Jasmine Byrne said.

“Danone Canada’s mission is to bring health through food to as many people as possible, so we are thrilled to be part of this project with Avena Foods, which will allow us to produce even more healthy and sustainable products locally. This collaboration will facilitate access to cutting-edge technology in plant-based ingredient production – allowing us to continue delivering on our promise of offering innovative and quality options for consumers,” Danone Canada Vice-President of Research & Innovation Pierre Morin said.

 “Old Dutch Foods is committed to our ‘Quality Lives Here’ claim beyond traditional snack categories blending quality, taste, and innovative ingredients to build snacks that transcend expectations adding new benefits for consumers. We are proud to share 70 years of innovation with Canadians and this partnership fuels continued development of products like those in our Project Nice portfolio,” Old Dutch Foods Sr. National Director Brand and Market Strategy Scott Kelemen said.

Protein Industries Canada is one of Canada’s five Global Innovation Clusters. Since 2018, Protein Industries Canada and industry have invested nearly half a billion dollars into innovation related to plant-based food, feed and ingredients. Protein Industries Canada was renewed by the federal government in February 2023, receiving an additional $150 million in funding.

About Avena Foods:

Avena Foods is a specialty miller that provides food, beverage, pet food and nutraceutical manufacturers with sustainably grown and milled functional pulse ingredients and ‘purity protocol’ gluten-free oat ingredients. Avena has a history of innovation that dates back to the 1930s, anchored in strong relationships with farmers and commercial customers.  ‘Partnering for safe, healthy diets and a sustainable world’

About Big Mountain Foods:

Founded in 1987, Big Mountain Foods makes natural vegan products out of real and fresh ingredients. The Vancouver-based manufacturer has been a supermarket mainstay since its inception due to the quality of their plant-based products, as well as the loving care put into their creation. Coming from four generations of entrepreneurial women, Big Mountain Foods also prides itself on being entirely female-owned and having a 90 per cent female immigrant workforce.

About Danone Canada:

Danone Canada is a business unit of Danone and operates from head offices in Boucherville, Quebec, and Toronto, Ontario. Danone Canada is the country’s largest consumer-facing Certified B Corporation® , demonstrating that the company meets the highest standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Danone Canada’s ambition is to produce healthful dairy, plant-based products and coffee creamers and beverages, create economic and social value, and nurture natural ecosystems through sustainable agriculture. Its portfolio brands includes Activia® , Oikos® , DanActive® , Danone® , Silk® plant-based foods and beverages, So Delicious® Dairy Free, StokTM, International DelightTM and more. For more information about Danone Canada, visit

About Old Dutch Foods Ltd.:

It all started in Winnipeg in 1954. Taste, quality, and identity made such an impression that Old Dutch chips and snacks were an instant hit. Six decades later, our windmill is now a sought out fixture on store shelves all across Canada. A brand to trust, a product to enjoy – Old Dutch continues to lead the snack industry in product innovation and integrity.

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