Bruce Brolley, Senior Agronomist, Roquette Canada
ROQUETTE IS A global leader in plant-based ingredients and is a pioneer of new vegetal proteins, using potatoes, corn, wheat and peas as raw materials. Roquette is a family-owned business that was founded by two brothers in France in 1933 as a potato starch processor. Today, the company is owned by more than 250 family shareholders (the fifth generation) and has 20 processing plants around the world selling plant-based ingredients to over 500 customers in more than 100 countries. Roquette works in a wide range of markets including pharmaceutical, cosmetic, human food and nutrition, pet food and industry.
In 2005, Roquette started processing peas in France. The demand for our high-quality pea protein, fibre and starch led to our investment in Canada and the building of the new pea processing plant in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. With the processing facility currently being built, Roquette will begin contracting yellow peas directly from farmers for the 2020 growing season. The Portage pea plant will produce Roquette’s highly successful Nutralys protein products, which can be used as a soluble protein for the special diet market segment and as a texturized pea protein for the meat analog industry. The plant will also produce pea starch and pea fibre along with a livestock feed.
As a company, Roquette is committed to sustainability. We are committed to increasing the percentage of raw materials used in our plants around the world that are certified or rated as “sustainable and responsible.” To achieve this goal, Roquette is focused on three sourcing principles.
1. SOURCING SUSTAINABLY
The Portage pea facility will play a part in achieving this goal. Firstly, peas are a legume crop and fix the majority of their own nitrogen, greatly reducing the need for commercial nitrogen fertilizer. Secondly, the plant will run using sustainable hydroelectric power and it is close to our key North American markets, which allows for efficient distribution of finished products.
2. CONTINUOUSLY IMPROVING OUR RAW MATERIAL QUALITY
As a new processor to Canada, Roquette is evaluating the processing quality of yellow pea varieties currently available in the marketplace as well as new varieties being commercialized. In time, Roquette will have a list of preferred varieties. At this time, however, we will work with any commercial yellow pea variety as we continue to build our pea quality database to better understand the effect of genetics on the environment in which the peas were grown.
3. STRENGTHENING OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR RAW MATERIALS SUPPLIERS
Roquette values long-term relationships with producers who supply raw materials to our processing plants. At many of Roquette’s processing facilities, such as the pea processing facility in France, we have built long-term relationships with growers and have worked with many of the same growers consistently year after year. At the Portage pea plant we have the same goal of developing strong partnerships with farmers and having them grow peas for the plant each year. Over time, our goal is to work with local farmers to increase pea acres in Manitoba to be able to source more of our pea requirements closer to the plant.
CONTRACTING YELLOW PEAS FOR 2020 – CONTRACT REQUIREMENTS
Roquette will start contracting Canada #2 yellow peas in the 2020 crop year. We will have full production contracts for the total volume of peas grown on the contracted acres. In order to ensure a consistent supply of peas to the plant, we will source peas from Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan to cover a range of growing regions.
As a processor, Roquette is concerned with gluten and soybean allergens in our end products. Our biggest allergen concern is soybeans: Their similar shape, colour and size to peas makes them extremely difficult to clean out of peas, even with advanced cleaning equipment. Our strategy to manage soybean contamination will focus on prevention. Prevention will start with the use of certified pea seed and then field selection. We will ask producers as a part of their field selection process to consider their rotation and choose fields that have not grown soybeans on them for the previous two years. This is our only rotational restriction.
Producers growing both peas and soybeans on their farm will have to take extra care to reduce the risk of contamination on farm. Contamination can occur in equipment that was last used for soybeans (combine, augers, bins, trucks, etc.). Farmers will need to pay careful attention to reduce contamination of soybeans with peas. Farmers will have to ensure that equipment last used for soybeans has been cleaned before using the same equipment for peas.
Roquette will be purchasing a #2 yellow pea but due to the challenges of cleaning soybeans out of peas, our contracts will have a very low tolerance of soybeans. Careful management will be required to ensure that the low tolerance is not exceeded.
The Roquette pea processing plant will provide farmers a stable, domestic marketing option for peas. As an exporter, Roquette is required to observe maximum residue limits (MRLs) for the pea products entering our target markets, such as the United States. To maintain our markets, we need to ensure that farmers supplying peas to the plant are applying crop protection products according to the label, at the right time and at the right rate. Reglone (diquat) is the only exception. While Reglone is registered for use in Canada as a desiccant, Roquette’s pea contracts will not allow its use due to MRL restrictions with the United States.
Today’s manufacturers and consumers are demanding more information on how their food is produced and its sustainability footprint. After careful evaluation, Roquette identified the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) as the best approach to demonstrate that our supply chain is being produced in a sustainable manner without being too invasive to the growers we work with. An EFP guides producers on conducting a confidential self-assessment of their own farm, identifying their own risks and developing their own action plan. Roquette will only require the certificate and will not have access to the details of farmers’ EFP, their self-assessment or action plan. Farmers under contract will be required to complete an Environmental Farm Plan including the Yellow Pea Chapter.
2019 TRACEABILITY AND SAMPLE COLLECTION PROGRAM
Traceability is a critical component of Roquette’s sourcing philosophy. Roquette must be able to trace each lot of peas back to the farm, the field they were grown in, how those peas were managed, which bin(s) they were stored in and the trucks in which they were transported. To collect this information, Roquette is planning to use electronic data collection systems that producers are already using or a spreadsheet to provide current crop conditions on their contracted pea acres and the traceability information that is required.
In preparation for contracting for the 2020 growing season, we have launched a 2019 Traceability Program. Roquette is looking to partner with current pea growers to record their pea management practices, submit the information on a timely basis to meet certain timelines and provide Roquette with a pea sample. The Traceability Program is a test run to validate and fine-tune our traceability platform that will be in place with our 2020 contracts, to make the traceability requirements as user friendly as possible and to continue to build our pea quality database.
Producers who choose to participate in our 2019 Traceability Program will receive $150 directly from Roquette, will have the opportunity to provide input into the traceability requirements that will be in place with our contracts, and will have the first chance at contracts for the 2020 growing season. Growing peas? We are accepting producers into our 2019 Traceability Program until June 30 — please get in touch to find out more.
With the investment of a new processing plant in Portage la Prairie, Roquette will be a part of the Manitoba Agri-Processing Industry for a long time to come. Roquette’s goal is to build long-term relationships with producers, and to help them grow peas sustainably and profitably so producers consistently put peas in their crop rotation and supply peas to our plant every year.
Details of our full production contracts, including the premium for implementing our traceability and management requirements, will be released this fall when we start contracting for the 2020 growing season. n
Interested in working with us on our 2019 Traceability Program? Want more information on our contracts for 2020? Please get in touch with our team and we will follow up with our contract information in the fall and let you know about the details of our summer tours and contract launch meetings.