NEWSLETTER 3, April 2019

Growing Opportunities for Rapeseed/Canola Protein.


It is well known that while rapeseed (canola) is a highly valued source of vegetable oil, it is also a potentially important source of high value protein. Research has shown that biological value of this protein is equivalent or superior to many other plant proteins, including soybean.

However, the high level of fiber (due primarily to the hull) along with other anti-nutritional components such as phenolic, phytic acid and glucosinolates have reduced the value of the proteinrich rapeseed/canola meal that remains subsequent to the extraction of the oil. Furthermore, the most common method for processing rapeseed/canola for its oil involves extraction through the use of organic solvents followed by high temperature toasting of the meal. The outcome of this process results in low availability of the protein and thus the meal is limited primarily to ruminant (especially dairy cattle) feed along with some limited rationing in swine and poultry feed. Because of these limitations, rapeseed/canola meal is heavily discounted against soybean meal representing a significant lost opportunity for an important source of protein.
The current and future global situation in terms of increased population (approximately 10B by 2050) and the rapidly growing middle class in Asia, associated with an increased demand for meat is resulting in a rapidly increasing demand for plant protein for both feed and food. Rapeseed/canola offers a strategically important source of protein to address this growth in demand.
Beyond the traditional use of rapeseed meal in cattle feed rations there is a growing opportunity for poultry and swine feed, aquaculture, pet food, and, of course, food for human dietary needs. Advances being made in genetics and plant breeding as well as processing technologies offer an excellent opportunity for moving rapeseed/canola protein to be utilized in new ways and this increases economic value of the crop and the industry including the farmers who grow the crop.
In Canada, as part of the new national innovation agenda, a program was initiated in 2017 to establish five strategic superclusters. One of these, Protein Industries Canada (PIC) was successful in a national competition and has received funding support of $150M (over five years) which will be matched by at least equal levels of industry funding. The vision for PIC is ‘to position Canada globally as a leading source of high-quality plant protein and plant-based co-products, while substantially contributing to Canada’s growth and international trade balance.’ Canola along with pulse crops (peas, lentils) will be a major target system for the development of a high value protein and ingredient industry. General information on the PIC supercluster is available at
The Canadian canola research community holds an annual two-day event (‘Canola Week’) early in December (i.e. Canola Industry Meeting, Canola Innovation Day). In December 2018 a special session on canola protein opportunities was organized to discuss new/emerging opportunities. This event might be viewed as a first step in building community interest with the ultimate goal of a submission of a consortium proposal for funding support from PIC. Information on future canola week events will be available at
It should also be noted that a number of conferences are being organized to provide opportuni-ties for gaining new information and for business development and partnership opportunities on the topic of plant proteins. The Bridge2Food Protein Summit series is an excellent example of relevant conferences. The 2018 summit in Lille, France brought together representatives from private and public organizations to discuss opportunities in the plant protein area (including rapeseed/canola proteins). An overview along with highlights is available in Appendix A. I am pleased to note that the Bridge2Food protein summit series will be held for the first time in Western Canada with a meeting in Saskatoon May 29-31 ( ) followed by a second event in Calgary, June 3-5 ( ).
In Canada through a range of research and innovation initiatives, canola protein opportunities are being addressed. A few examples are given here. Corteva Agriscience is in the process of developing canola varieties with elevated protein content under the title of ‘ProPound’. Such varieties might be viewed as a desirable starting point for protein extraction and purification initiatives. There is growing industry engagement with companies such as Burcon NutraScience ( ) undertaking work to purify and evaluate canola protein isolates. Ongoing research in public laboratories includes work on modification of canola seed protein properties and utilizing genetics to increase the feasibility of dehulling as a first step in recovering high quality protein. The Canola Council of Canada ( ) is actively supporting research initiatives to improve canola protein quality and thereby increasing the overall value of the crop.
Addressing the challenges and opportunities in developing a rapeseed/canola protein industry will most certainly require international cooperation and collaboration. This could represent an opportunity for future meetings sponsored by the GCIRC and, of course, at future International Rapeseed Congresses. Rapeseed/canola protein opportunities will be, of course, discussed at the upcoming International Rapeseed Congress in Berlin ( ).

Dr Wilfred KELLER
Member of the GCIRC board and former president
President & CEO of Ag-West Bio Inc., Saskatoon, Canada