A Short Q & A with Justin White, KeyLeaf’s VP of Global Sales & Business Development, on how the plant-based food boom is impacting activities at KeyLeaf
Q: You’ve reported that KeyLeaf is currently experiencing a surge in demand for its services. What are you observing?
A. At the moment we’re seeing tremendous demand at our Canadian facility for services related to plant-based protein extraction. We’ve also seen an increase in requests for R&D services for hempseed concentrate and isolate projects, plus inquiries for CBD extraction, distillation, and isolation.
Q: What forces are driving customers to KeyLeaf?
A: Many of the companies we work with seemingly want to position their plant-based ingredients and proteins “into the mix” for future product development of plant-based consumer products containing plant-based proteins. Based on the statistics for plant-based foods during COVID, it’s clear that the trend for plant-based products has increased significantly and is here to stay. I think there are a lot of companies and brands that are strategically planning to meet those demands and harness the power of innovation in that space. At KeyLeaf we are fortunate to have specialized process equipment ready and available. That, coupled with decades of processing know-how, gives us an advantage over other companies as we’re able to attract new clients who want to fast track their products into the marketplace to take advantage of increasing consumer demand.
Q: Have you also seen increased processing demand from your long-term contract customers in the nutritional supplement business?
A: For our supplement clients there was a surge last year, which coincided with the outbreak of COVID and has now stabilized at a higher level.
Q: Creating an extract seems to be a collaborative effort between KeyLeaf and the customer. What does KeyLeaf provide and what does the customer bring to the table?
A: For protein extraction, some customers have their own process, and some don’t. Our expertise is in the pilot phase, so it tends to go much faster if the customer comes in with a process that we can “plug and play” with our system to do the extraction. They most often provide the raw materials and the target spec. Sometimes a customer will have difficulty sourcing their own raw materials and we will help out using our sources and suppliers.
Q: What factors do you forecast will contribute to the company’s expansion through the remainder of the year and into 2022?
A: Again, consumer demand for plant-based foods is the driver. With retail sales projected to increase fivefold by 2030, an increasing number of plant-based food makers are contacting us asking for help scaling up to meet that demand.