Domestic pea protein producers at risk as consumer demand grows

Dive Brief:

Dive Insight:

Plant-based protein powders, including pea protein, are not just for athletes and vegans anymore. 

The Myco Technology report revealed that of the 725 plant protein consumers surveyed, only 17% of them identified as vegan, and 38% actually mix the products with dairy milk — an indication that their reason for purchase is more aligned with factors like taste and quality, and not lifestyle choice, the report said. 

But as the plant-based protein powder products rise in popularity, the future of the industry may be in danger. 

If the ITC and DOC come to a final determination over the allegations, an imposition of import duties on HPC pea protein equal to “the dumping and subsidy margins,” will ensue, AgFunder News reported.

The global pea protein market size was valued at $1.9 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12% from 2023 to 2030, according to Grand View Research, with health and fitness trends and a growing number of vegan and vegetarians fueling demand.

Puris, which is a key supplier of pea protein to plant-based meat giant Beyond Meat, in 2019 opened a new pea protein production facility in Dawson, Minnesota, enabling it to supply 50% or North America’s pea protein. 

Other producers have been flocking to pea protein production. Ingredion​​ opened a facility in Nebraska; ADM​​​​ opened a plant in North Dakota; and Roquette debuted a plant in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada.

These domestic producers are being substantially undercut by cheap Chinese imports, according to the AgFunder News report, thereby missing out on growing market potential. In 2022, five U.S. purchasers of pea protein who responded to the ITC investigation purchased 96.6% of it from China, 2.3% from U.S. producers and 1.1% from other countries, the report said. 

“There is compelling evidence that Chinese imports have undersold the domestic industry prices throughout the period of investigation,” Puris claimed in the complaint. “Domestic producers have been forced to idle facilities, and lay off American workers due to an increase in unfairly traded imports from China.” 

The protein producer went on to claim in the complaint that the domestic industry is in “grave peril.”

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