The Van Trump Report

Benson Hill is Now an Ingredient Maker

Benson Hill has made a name for itself via its innovative crop development technology and products like its ultra-high-protein soybeans. Now, the food technology company has launched its own line of plant-based protein ingredients under the brand TruVail. The initial lineup of TruVail ingredients includes high-protein soy flour, soy protein concentrate, and texturized proteins for use in traditional soy protein applications as well as plant-based protein alternatives.

The ingredients are sourced from Benson Hill’s proprietary ultra-high protein soybeans, which have 50% more protein than conventional varieties. The ingredients, being less processed, are a more sustainable alternative to commodity soy protein concentrate, according to Benson Hill. Additionally, they may require 70% less water and 50% less carbon dioxide to produce than commodity soy protein concentrate.

“Better ingredients start with better beans,” said Bruce Bennett, president of Benson Hill’s ingredients business. “Whereas food manufacturers are usually relegated to use whatever limited ingredients the commodity system has to offer, TruVail ingredients are sourced from soybeans specifically designed with consumer interests in mind.” Kurt Long, vice president of proteins for Benson Hill, noted that TruVail would also allow food manufacturers to circumvent supply issues around soy protein concentrate, especially as consumer interest in plant-based foods explodes.

Benson Hill contracted with partner farmers in the U.S. to grow 70,000 acres of its ultra-high protein soybeans in the 2021 crop year versus 30,000 acres in 2020, representing approximately +133% year-over-year growth. According to Benson Hill CEO Matt Crisp, farmers are already requesting to grow +20% more acres in 2022. The company says it now needs 250,000 to 500,000 acres to “drive crop and ingredient production efficiencies.”

Benson Hill recently added new production capacity with the purchase of the ZFS Creston plant in  Iowa. That followed the company’s 2021 purchase of a soybean crushing facility from Seymour, Ind.-based Rose Acre Farms. The acquisition of the Creston plant was a critical step in Benson Hill’s ability to scale its ingredients business. Benson Hill highlights that the value of the global plant protein market could surpass US$162 billion by 2030. “What we are is a bet on the trend rather than a bet on a brand,” says Crisp. “We feel like we’re helping power an industry with incredible opportunity.”

Founded in 2012, Benson Hill began as a crop genomics platform that placed a focus on developing crops and ingredients for the fast-growing plant-based foods market. Through its food innovation engine known as CropOS®, Benson Hill says it identifies the natural ability within plants to increase protein expression, value-added oil content, and other attributes. They’ve since created an integrated supply chain model, which combines seed innovation with closed-loop farming for their UHP soybeans. With the addition of proprietary ingredients manufacturing through TruVail, Benson Hill now effectively controls their crop technology from start to finish. Learn more about Benson Hill HERE. For full disclosure, I was an early investor in Benson Hill and continue to invest and believe in their long-term business model. (Source: FoodIngredients, Successful Farming, St. Louis Business Journal)

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