U.S. company working to thwart pea protein dumping by China

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The North American market for pea protein is the largest in the world, with the U.S making up 70 per cent of the market.

A market of that size is an attractive one for countries with an excess of pea protein, a byproduct of extracting pea starch to make noodles.

Nicole Atchison, CEO of Puris, a plant-based food manufacturing company, says that, historically, China has sent much of its pea protein to the U.S., but that it’s of a much lower quality than the pea protein being used for food applications.

The rapid growth of the overall plant-based protein market means that China views the U.S. market as an enticing one for its excess of pea protein. The trouble is, Puris says, is that China has been selling huge quantities of its low-quality pea protein at such low prices it constitutes “dumping.”

Last July, Puris filed an anti-dumping countervailing petition with the International Trade Commission, asking for tariffs and duties to be applied to imported Chinese proteins. While still in process, the first preliminary ruling by the Department of Commerce in the U.S. has found proof that China is subsidizing its pea protein manufacturers, and allowing them to artificially lower their price.

Atchison explains that now it’s a waiting game to see what the tariff and countervailing duty will be. That decision is set to happen in early February.

The impact of the added protein on the market, however is now, and Atchison says that after Puris filed the petition, the amount of imported pea protein from China tripled, further dragging down the market. (more below)

She explains that China sources peas from Canada and Russia, but has been using more Russian peas at an increasing clip, starting earlier in 2023. Once processed for starch, the protein is shipped here, to North America.

“If we manufactured all that protein here at home, that would that would take between 250 and 300,000 metric tons of peas to make that protein. It’s better for our farmers to to keep manufacturing at home because it builds a domestic market that the U.S. farmer can participate in, and the Canadian farmer is probably already participating. But that market is getting taken by Russia,” Atcheson says.

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