Plant Protein Industry Grows in Nebraska Beef State
Plant-based protein cultivation is becoming an increasingly popular industry in Nebraska, one of America’s largest beef states, according to a recent report in The Independent.
Although beef and cattle farming are Nebraska’s primary industries, more and more farmers are turning to growing beans, peas, and lentils in response to the growing demand for healthy plant protein. Nebraska’s fertile, well-irrigated soils provide perfect growing conditions for peas – the primary protein of choice for many herbal brands, including Beyond Meat.
While plant protein production is already established in large meat-producing states like Montana and North Dakota, Nebraska’s plant interests are particularly noteworthy.
Proudly self-proclaimed “The State of the Beef,” the beef population of Nebraska outnumbers the population, and beef production contributes an estimated $ 12 billion to the state’s economy. Raising cattle is a deeply rooted way of life, so the advent of plant-based alternatives to meat has naturally met a largely negative response from farmers and ranchers in the region. Yet a growing number of organizations are specifically choosing Nebraska as the prime location for developing the plant protein industry.
In March, Ingredion opened a state-of-the-art pea processing plant in South Sioux City, becoming the first North American company to produce pea protein isolates and starch. The company says the ingredients would be applicable in a variety of food products, including plant-based cheese, gelatin-free confectionery, and gluten-free bakery products.
The main supplier of pea protein, PURIS, has also stepped up investments in Nebraska, increasing pea production there by 81% since 2019, with growth expected. According to The Independent, a growing number of local farmers are turning to pea production as both a lucrative crop and an easily sustainable way to replenish and regenerate soil health.
The untold potential of vegetable proteins
In 2017, Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown traveled to speak at the Nebraska Innovation Campus, a research extension of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Brown spoke candidly to agricultural students about Impossible Foods’ groundbreaking work that turns plants into meat without sacrificing taste or pleasure. Whether or not Brown influenced the minds of the students that day, his appearance powerfully symbolized the rich possibilities of using Nebraska’s historic farmland to grow beef from plants instead of cows.
The US alternative meat market is expected to reach $ 27.9 billion by 2025, and pea protein represents the fastest growing segment of this market. If more businesses and farmers invest in the untold potential of Nebraska’s emerging plant protein industry, the region should reap the rewards and may even one day become affectionately known as “The Bean State.” “.