Oscar-winning director James Cameron (“Titanic”, “Avatar”) and wife Suzy Amis Cameron are betting on another blockbuster. But it’s not a movie. It’s the increasing global demand for vegan and plant-based foods.
The A-list vegan couple announced this week that they’re investing in an unlikely superstar: peas. The versatility of pea protein has made it a sought-after ingredient in plant-based foods including nondairy milk, yogurt, and Hampton Creek's popular eggless mayonnaise and salad dressings. It's also the key ingredient in Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burgers, which are so meat-like, the company has worked to have them merchandised alongside meat counters in supermarkets. Earlier this week Beyond Meat announced that its burgers are being tested in select TGI Fridays locations in Boston, with plans to launch in all 471 locations nationwide early next year.
To support this demand, the Camerons are launching North America’s largest pea protein fractionation facility in Cameron’s Canadian homeland. The 160,000 metric-ton Verdient Foods Inc., opens this month in Vanscoy, Saskatchewan, which is known for some of the world’s healthiest soil.
“We are working with Saskatchewan farmers through the Verdient Foods processing facility and the Food Centre to integrate food production with new value-added products,” Cameron said in a statement. The facility will work to not only process the peas but also to develop organic, plant-based foods for global food producers.
“For years, we’ve been on a mission to help the world eat healthy food grown by farmers who have chosen to farm organically,” Suzy added. “Jim and I are thrilled to work with Saskatchewan experts at the Food Centre, the University of Saskatchewan, and the Whitecap Dakota First Nation; all of whom have long been supporters of the mission to bring healthy food to all.”
The project is founded on partnerships with Greg and Olivia Yuel, of PIC Investment Group Inc., the non-profit Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre, and the Whitecap Dakota First Nation of Saskatchewan.
“We want to welcome James and Suzy Amis Cameron to Saskatchewan, and express our deepest gratitude for their investment in Verdient Foods and their partnerships with the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre, the Whitecap Dakota First Nation and its First Nation leader, Chief Darcy Bear,” the Honourable Brad Wall, the Premier of Saskatchewan, said in a statement. “Saskatchewan agriculture is feeding the world while creating jobs and opportunity at home. The Camerons’ decision to move forward with this project in Saskatchewan is a tribute to the province’s grain producers, our growing food processing industry, and our world leading research community.”
The Camerons have spearheaded other health-focused efforts including the first plant-based school in the U.S., Los Angeles’s MUSE School. Cameron is also producing a forthcoming documentary on vegan athletes called “The Game Changers.”
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