Parabel breaks ground on large scale commercial farm to produce LENTEIN plant protein in Florida

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

The water lentil: A tiny aquatic plant with big potential?
The water lentil: A tiny aquatic plant with big potential?

Related tags Term Water

Parabel – a new entrant to the burgeoning plant-based protein market - has signed a lease for 450 acres of land in Fellsmere, Florida, where it plans to build a $10m production facility for its water-lentil-based proteins.

The site – which will use a combination of patent granted and patent pending systems - will initially produce 1,000 metric tons of product per year, with production to increase to 4,000 metric tons, and is the first of several large-scale commercial sites in the pipeline, with others to follow in South America and East Africa.

The plant should be completed in the second quarter of next year, with products available to the market shortly afterwards, said Parabel CEO Anthony Tiarks:

There are no other protein ingredients in the market that can deliver such volumes in a sustainable way and at the right price and we now have the right location to do this, and it’s in the USA.

“Sourcing fresh, non GMO ingredients is an issue that food manufacturers are struggling with today. We hope to be part of solving these issues.”​  

The first product on offer from Parabel​ - which scooped an innovation award at the IFT show this summer – is LENTEIN, a water lentil protein concentrate containing around 65% protein and a lot of micro and macronutrients.

However, it is also working on a protein isolate with up to 90% protein, plus a paler version without such a 'green' hue.

A free-floating seed-producing micro aquatic plant that thrives in freshwater ponds, lagoons and wetlands, the water lentil (also known as duckweed and Lemna/Lemnaceae), is arguably the “world's most nutritionally complete and sustainable food source​”, claims Parabel.

The water lentil has obvious advantages over other plant protein sources in that it grows incredibly rapidly and can be harvested in raceways (open-air ponds similar to those in which algae is grown commercially – although the water lentil is not​ a type of algae) all year around, says the firm.

Beverages, bars, snacks

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the IFT show, marketing manager Cecilia Wittbjer said: “It has higher amino acid levels than any other plant protein, including soy.

"People say it has a really nice mouthfeel, the protein is soluble, and has a foaming quality so it works well in beverages. But it can also be used in bars and snacks.

Lemna parabel green beverage
Cecilia Wittbjer: "People say it has a really nice mouthfeel, the protein is soluble, and has a foaming quality so it works well in beverages.'

"The water lentil is the world's smallest flowering plant, which reproduces itself in 24 hours so it can be harvested every day, which translates into the highest yield per hectare of any other crop...

"We grow it in an aquafarm but we recycle 98% of the water, which means our water use is very low compared with other plant proteins."

The world's smallest, free floating, flowering plant, the water lentil grows and reproduces faster than any other leafed plant. While it flowers, fruits and seeds, the water lentil has adapted to cloning as a favored means of reproduction - reproducing itself continuously. 

She told us this morning: “Since the launch at the IFT we have been very busy trying to respond to and send samples to the food industry all over the world. We have both long term and short term projects going on and some of them will be materialized already in this coming spring.

“The supplement sector has been the shortest way to the shelves but we are working closely with companies who are using LENTEIN for functionality on top of nutrition.”

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1 comment

Marketing 101: Names matter

Posted by Dave S.,

LOL, I can see why they chose "water lentil" (despite no botanical connection whatsoever to actual lentils, but never mind that detail), as "duckweed" might not fly very well with consumers. ;-)

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