DAWSON, Minn.— A shuttered food manufacturing plant in Dawson will reopen as part of a $75 million investment by Cargill in Puris, the largest North American producer of pea protein.
Puris will be retrofitting the shuttered AMPI plant just outside of Dawson to produce the pea protein.
The development is expected to create 90 new jobs for the community about 17 miles west of Montevideo in western Minnesota, according to an announcement from Puris and Cargill.
The investment enables Puris to more than double its pea protein production using the 200,000-square-foot facility. The facility had been owned and operated by AMPI from 1982 through 2012 producing cheese sauces and foods. Its closing at the end of 2012 meant the loss of 130 jobs for Dawson.
Dawson Mayor Randy Tensen said city officials learned Thursday, Aug. 29, that Puris was moving forward with the project. He said the city had some earlier contact with the company about the plans.
People in the community are excited about the development and the jobs it will bring, according to the mayor. He said he hopes it will also benefit the area’s farming community by creating opportunities to grow peas for the plant.
Tensen said part of the former AMPI plant was used in 2014 when a Kentucky-based company, Bluegrass Proteins, began producing protein products there. The operations did not take hold, according to the mayor.
Puris said in its announcement that the investment will position the company to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for its category-leading pea proteins, starches and fibers, all grown and produced through its "unique vertically integrated and transparent supply chain."
“This is more than a pea protein facility. This is the future of food," said Tyler Lorenzen, Puris president, in the announcement. "The Dawson facility will not only support Puris farmers in the U.S. with a crop that regenerates their land and that is sustainable because it provides soil health advantages but will also support the growing demand for great tasting plant-based products in the marketplace. This investment will grant Puris the ability to support more food companies, more farmers and more consumers faster.”
“As consumer demand increases for plant-based proteins, we want to make sure that Cargill, with our partner Puris, can deliver on that demand with great-tasting, sustainable and label-friendly pea protein for customers in North America and across the world,” said Laurie Koenig, Cargill texturizers and specialty lead. “This investment also provides significant support to the local economy with approximately 90 new jobs and a new revenue stream for Midwest farmers.”
The Puris company stated that it utilizes a network of more than 400 U.S. farmers to grow proprietary, non-GMO pea seed. It creates economic opportunity for the farmers as well as helps regenerate the soil. Puris purchases the peas and turns the crops into pea ingredients, including pea protein, pea starch and pea fiber.
Puris is one of the major suppliers to Beyond Meat, one of the emerging companies providing plant-based proteins in place of meat.
“While this is an important step in our growth for many reasons, one that resonates personally for me is to move ever closer to the vision my father had in 1985: A vision that plant-based nutrition would propel us to a better future for both people and our planet. With this investment, those possibilities are becoming realities which in turn inspires us to create what’s next for plants, people, planet and Puris,’’ said Lorenzen in the company’s announcement.
Puris will now own and operate three facilities in North America solely focused on pea protein production: Turtle Lake, Wis.; Oskaloosa, Iowa; and Dawson.
With engineering complete on the Dawson facility, construction to retrofit it for pea production will start immediately with an expected operational start date of late 2020.
Dawson has a history in the development of plant-based proteins. The Dawson Mills facility began producing a soybean isolate in the late 1970s and marketed frozen meat alternatives under the band name Anaprime in the early 1980s.