Burcon NutraScience and Pristine Gourmet, with a co-investment from Protein Industries Canada, are coming together to leverage Canada’s supply of sunflower seeds in a project that will determine how best to extract as much protein as possible from the crop.

“Canadian companies continue to be leaders in plant-based protein products, this time by developing the potential of sunflowers. This project will advance new technology to extract protein from the seeds of the plant. By so doing, our industry will continue to contribute to the food security of a growing global population with high-quality sustainable products,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Currently, Canadian sunflower protein is primarily used in livestock feed and pet food. By finding and perfecting new processing methods, Burcon and Pristine Gourmet will help increase the value and uses of the crop, creating the foundation for a wide variety of new plant-based foods and beverages.

“The innovation shown by Burcon NutraSciences and Pristine Gourmet is the most recent example of Canadian businesses driving change across the plant-based food and ingredients sector,” said Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel. “Together, they’re substantially increasing the potential food uses of Canada’s sunflowers, increasing the value of the crop and strengthening our economy and supply chain while providing Canadian consumers with new healthy and delicious choices.”

Through the $973,000 project investment—of which Protein Industries Canada is contributing $250,000 and the partners are contributing the remainder—Burcon and Pristine Gourmet will evaluate and optimize protein extraction techniques and processes, evaluate the protein differences between different sunflower meals, test sunflower protein samples in food applications, and scale up their preferred processing method into a pilot plant.