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Movie director James Cameron is among many investors pouring tens of millions of dollars into research and development of trendy new pea-based products.

James Cameron, the Oscar-winning director and environmental advocate, announced a few months ago at the plant’s official launch that he was the L.A.-based investor behind the massive organic pea processing plant. With just 462 people in Vanscoy, Saskatchewan, this quaint town is not typically known for celebrity sightings. Most residents are wheat farmers, or work at the nearby potash plants.

“This will be a legacy for us,” Cameron said in video of the event – referring to the investment by him and his wife, Suzy Amis Cameron. “We see it as the start of a bigger vision for the development of food products.”

Driving their investment is the rapid rise in popularity of plant-based protein. As increasing numbers of traditional meat-eaters look to reduce animal products in their diets or eliminate them entirely, food companies have rushed to enter this market. Globally, the plant-based protein market is expected to reach $5-billion by 2020 (and $19.5-billion for the plant-based milk market).

Mr. Cameron’s stake in Vanscoy’s Verdient Foods is not the only flashy pea-protein news in the Prairies. In late September, the French food giant Roquette announced it would spend $400-million to build the world’s largest pea-processing plant in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba Canada.

Silicon Valley investors and global food giants alike are now looking at the humble pea as “the future of food.” Peas – long considered a pantry staple and filler ingredient for soups and stews – are suddenly the focus of tens of millions of dollars in research and development, and are being transformed into trendy new pea-based products. According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 170 new food products containing pea protein were launched in 2015 alone – 32 of them in Canada.

 

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