Swedish pea farming was severely affected by the closure of the Findus factory in Bjuv last spring. However, a group of RISE researchers are now co-investing with food companies Food for Progress, Lyckeby Starch and Findus Pea Farming Association in new products and new markets for the Swedish peas. “Give peas a chance” is the name of the project that will bring Swedish pea farming to a new level.
The project title is witty in a Gothenburg way, but the research group in Gothenburg has a serious and carefully prepared strategy, and has received nearly SEK 6 million from the EU Rural Development Fund for an innovation project that will last until 2019.
From green, yellow and grey Swedish grown peas, a whole new product category of vegetarian foods will be developed, to be launched using two well-established industrial partners: Food for Progress, producer of the vegan product, Oumph!, among others, and Lyckeby Starch.
– On completion of the project, the objective is to produce a finished consumer product, using the infrastructure and contact network provided by our business partners, Food for Progress and Lyckeby, says Lina Svanberg, Researcher and R&I Director at the RISE Agriculture and Food unit.
Grow the right features
In order to offer exciting new types of pea foods, researchers will develop Swedish pea farming to ensure that the peas acquire the required features.
– This innovation is possible because pea proteins form an interconnected fibre network when exposed to the right temperature and pressure. That feature is found in only a few plant-based proteins. Apart from peas, it is mainly soybeans that exhibit similar features, says Lina Svanberg.
However, the ability of the pea protein to form fibre networks very much depends on the farming conditions, degree of maturity and choice of variety, and this connection will be examined closely by the project group in collaboration with, in particular, Findus Pea Farming Association.
– Our objective is to enable Swedish pea farmers to produce a new customised pea raw material for both the national and international food industry, says Lina Svanberg.
The area can be much larger
Scientists anticipate that the pea farming area can be larger than the area previously used for pea farming, and that the farming will not be limited to Skåne.
– This can be a way of finding a sustainable Swedish alternative to the soybean, as a basis for producing new plant-based foods with exciting textures and flavours. If we did, we would achieve three gains: reduced climate impact, improved public health and a focus on local, profitable Swedish agricultural production, says Lina Svanberg.
Contact: Lina Svanberg, Researcher and R&I Director at the RISE Agriculture and Food unit, +46(0)10-516 66 79, firstname.lastname@example.org