Feeding and changing the world with unique specialty crops
Is it possible to change the world with a tiny pea sprout? Jerry and Renee Lorenzen thought so, seeding their dreams of a food secure planet in Oskaloosa, Iowa. That was in 1985, and today their very own sprouts, son Tyler Lorenzen and daughter Nicole Atchison, are running the business they founded, leaning far forward on the cutting edge of sustainable, regenerative, non-GMO food production.
CEO Lorenzen and Atchison, the company’s CTO, are advancing the clean ingredient revolution as the exclusive manufacturer of PURIS™ pea protein, starches, fibers, and more non-GMO ingredients from soy, pulses, lentils, and other plant sources.
The seed business their parents established has grown into a vertically integrated $100 million ingredient enterprise with six facilities in five states and over 200 employees. Some of the most groundbreaking plant-based food innovators, including California-based Beyond Meat, rely on PURIS to help them feed the world in ever-evolving, healthier, kinder, cleaner, and more sensible ways.
“It took a determined entrepreneur, someone with the vision to see things that needed to change to feed a growing world. That was my dad,” Lorenzen recalled. “He was a plant breeder and had this vision to not only breed plants for seed, but also build a system that would utilize those seeds to foster an integrated model all the way from seeds to food. That concept was unique at the time.”
Using seeds to feed people instead of animals was a concept unheard of at the time. “He took a unique approach to making sure seeds worked for farmers, tasted great, and then at every step of the way made really desirable foods. Then, ultimately people would choose a healthier and more sustainable food system as a preferred choice because it tasted great, not because of a diet,” he added.
Many seeds, one vision
Jerry Lorenzen’s approach to ingredient production would turn out to be incredibly prescient. In the 1980s, plant-based foods were middling on availability and low on taste. “All of that work, ambition, and investment went into making grain products for animals,” Atchison said. He insisted upon great-tasting ingredients. “He was the guy eating soybeans in the middle of the field commenting on how bland they were or how white they were or how neutral-colored, because he knew that would be important for food manufacturers,” she chuckled.
The company’s genetics library holds over 30 years’ worth of data, including pea, corn, and other seeds developed and curated by the elder Lorenzen for use in human food applications.
“We are focusing on the nutritional profiles that matter to ingredient manufacturers and food makers, always knowing that it has to work for the farmers,” Atchison pointed out. “Agronomics, disease resistance, pest resistance, and the ability to yield so they can make money, all of those things were equally important to develop that robust collection of seeds for use in human food. I think that's the true difference. He was doing this in a time when it wasn't where the industry was focused.”
The family set out to build a sustainable food system that could support food security on a global scale. “We say that with complete humility, understanding that the world is huge and it will take a lot more than just us, but that was the whole methodology of the company: How can we marry all the stakeholders in the supply chain to work together in order to create huge change in the way people consume food, in the way it's grown, handled, and ultimately that whole experience?” Lorenzen explained.
A 2018 joint venture with Cargill is helping PURIS to grow and bring their legacy to a global audience hungry for solutions to the world’s food security concerns.
PURIS also works with brands such as sports nutrition and performance innovator TB12, a signature effort from New England Patriots QB Tom Brady. “TB12 is looking to do cool things in food and put clean ingredients in the market for their customers.” Atchison said. “We're out there to help brands who really want to bring great tasting plant-based ingredients to market and do it with Integrity. We want to be there to support them as they grow.”
Supporting organic growers for a vital future
Although demand is fueling the $50 billion market for organic food, less than 1 percent of America’s farmland is dedicated to producing Certified USDA Organic produce and ingredients.
Enter PURIS, known for its inclusive collaborative approach to partnering with growers in a difficult and complex market space. “We give our growers, all of whom are in the United States, the tools to be super successful. We secure their markets as a buyer so they thrive,” Lorenzen said. “They grow sustainable and regenerative crops and have a place to sell them. It's a big issue in the industry; there aren’t a lot of places to sell unique specialty crops because the markets aren’t developed yet.”
“Our ingredients simply taste better, and it's because of that whole closed-loop model with our growers, our proprietary processing technology, and our partnership with customers to create unique products that food eaters love to eat. Those areas are super critical for our success. It's really what we're known for.”
Integrity is the company’s taproot, evidenced by a fierce dedication to transparency and traceability. Lorenzen noted that while the ability to trace a product or ingredient directly to an unambiguous source is a value-add in today’s environment, it is soon to become an absolute requirement.
“When people are able to look through their supply chain and be proud of the food’s journey, where it came from, it's nutritious purpose, its impact on the world, they will like that,” he said. “That's what's going to drive the need for transparency, consumers want to understand how their food choices impact everything that they know, the world they live in, and their kid’s kid's future. Food has a massive impact of creating great change, and that's something we're trying to highlight.”
PURIS (formerly World Food Processing) cultivates a spectrum of pure, plant-based foods and ingredients from U.S.-based organic and non-GMO sources. Its end-to-end system ensures a wholesome journey from seed to solution.
PURIS™ is a family-owned company founded in 1985 in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Built with intention over 30 years, its plant-based food system benefits every link in the chain of production: flavorful and nutritious choices for people, profitable opportunities for growers, flexible ingredients for food makers, and practices that nourish soil, the environment, and life on earth.
PURIS unites satisfying flavor and texture with some of the highest protein of any plant-based food on the planet. A sustainable alternative to GMOs and animal proteins, its products feed health and peace of mind: 100% vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, allergen-free, and mystery-free. A safe and secure food supply is made in the USA.
PURIS’ model is grounded in 30 years of non-GMO natural breeding and sustained by an alliance of domestic growers and partners who share its high standards. It is the exclusive producer of PURIS™ Pea protein, starches, fibers and other non-GMO ingredients from soy, pulses, lentils and corn. Our endlessly versatile foods are a nourishing basis for every meal, food application and trend — from powders and mixes to energy bars and cereals.