Christine Lewington is a visionary. It is no wonder then that she is helming the delivery of an innovative new pea protein isolate product to the food industry.
Thanks to PIP (Protein Isolate Plant) International’s disruptive technology, its pea protein is set to be the market leader.
The technology has finally cracked the code on pea protein’s poor taste, colour, texture and compromised performance. It aims to drive industry standards and has the potential to shift consumers’ enjoyment of plant-based foods to the next level.
The Visionary and 10 Lessons….. So Far...
With 20 years of experience in the Agri-processing and renewable energy industries, PIP International CEO, Christine, has worked for the likes of Pepsico and Belectric Canada Solar.
“I cut my teeth working as a project manager at Pepsico. Many of the projects were using innovative and unproven technologies that needed to be further developed for full commercial roll-outs. This gave me valuable and diverse experience from business justification, technical due diligence, project planning and execution through to final close outs,” shared Christine when speaking exclusively to Business Enquirer.
Prior to founding PIP, Christine was headhunted to be the Managing Director of Belectric Canada Solar. During her time there, Christine managed the design, build and commissioning of the two largest tracking utility scale solar farms - throughout Canadian winter, no less. Roles like these helped develop Christine’s business and risk mitigation skills.
“Your business edge is your offensive weapon, your risk management is your defensive weapon and your emotional management is your ability to balance these weapons.” ~ Christine
An entrepreneur and visionary, Christine is always one step ahead of the game evidenced easily by the fact that PIP has just commissioned the fourth continuous, fully automated yellow pea wet fractionation facility less than a year after the building was purchased.
“I procured equipment for PIP’s phase one processing facility before the purchase was completed. There’s always a method in my madness - despite the global supply chain challenges, by taking this calculated risk PIP kept momentum and was able to introduce our Ultimate Pea Protein in 2022 instead of much later in 2023,” Christine said.
“Don't be afraid to take a loss. Fear of losing is worse than losing.” ~ Christine
At Christine’s heart, she is driven by morality. At the start of her conversation with Business Enquirer, she told the publication that she is a grandmother. Why? “Because why do we do anything? To make things hopefully better for our future generations,” she explained.
That underpinning ethos is what has pushed Christine to found PIP and fuels her daily navigation of a new start-up, with a complex project while holding onto a simple vision.
“In 2006, when on a trip in Panama, I was told to keep my eyes forward while driving on some side roads and of course, I did not. I witnessed children playing and drinking water out of the sewer. That day, I vowed that as part of my journey in life I would not only find the technology to clean water but make it accessible to anywhere in the world. One of PIP’s exciting technologies, at our wet pea processing facility is that technology. Eventually, we will give away this technology to enable free accessible clean drinking water,” shared Christine.
The Protein Crisis
It is estimated that by 2030 there will be a 40% global protein increase requirement, straining the global supply and nearing capacity limits. The pea protein market is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 12% and achieve sales revenue of $1.4B USD globally by 2025. 1
It begs the question of why hasn’t the globally grown abundant supply of yellow peas, with its high protein content and near perfect amino acid profile come to the rescue yet?
“That’s easy,” said Christine, “Products made with current pea protein options do not pass “The Second Moment of Truth. They simply taste terrible. Almost every time I tell someone what I am doing, they scrunch their nose up and tell me how awful pea protein is and that they have bought it once.”
The “Second Moment of Truth”
In product development, much is written about the “first moment of truth”, which is when the consumer decides to buy the product for the first time. But the true measure of a product’s success is determined by the “second moment of truth”, which is when consumers actually consume it. If they have a positive experience, they are likely to buy your product again. This leads to a high repeat rate and ultimately a successful product.
In terms of food and drink products, taste is central to the second moment of truth and is the most important re-purchase driver. Jason Cohen of Analytical Flavour Systems agrees, stating that “when you see a new product that claims to be organic, all natural, without additives, et cetera, you might buy it because of these claims. That is marketing. But you will only buy it again if you like the taste of the product.”
“By holding fast to our “must do better” and strategically combining several disruptive technologies across diverse industries, we believe we are set far apart from the industry. Our pea protein is the best tasting, most affordable, healthiest and environmentally responsible pea protein isolate on the planet!” claims Christine.
The Technology Level UP.P’d
Since Christine established PIP International in January 2020, her focus has been to ensure the extraction technology chosen would consistently deliver a protein beyond anything the industry hoped for but never thought possible.
"Not good enough… I'm out," Christine firmly stated on Dec 10th, 2019, just outside of Paris. Christine and her team had just spent 7 days working with a team of expert scientists that knew the best way to extract protein from yellow peas. When the protein results came in, it was ‘as good as the best’.
Christine continued to explain, “Consumers are rejecting plant-based products simply because they taste terrible. We MUST do better and find what seems to be a technology unicorn that will solve the mystery to the bitter taste, yellow color and low performance of pea proteins to become the solution to the protein crisis!”
The room was now pin drop quiet. After a few prolonged minutes of deafening silence, nervous shuffling of papers broke through and the head scientist cleared his throat and asked, "Christine, would you consider going for dinner tonight to have further discussions on your vision of finding a technology unicorn? I have an idea."
This was the beginning of a highly challenging yet very exciting journey for PIP!
When Christine researched where to best start the technology unicorn search, she discovered and chose IMPROVE SAS in France. Positioned as a cutting-edge R&D platform for the end-to-end valorization of alternative proteins, with an international visibility, she knew this was the best place to go.
The Next Steps
Christine and PIP International’s lean team are on the precipice of a pea revolution.
“Since the Future Food-Tech New York show in July, the doors have blown open for us. There is an incredible demand for our revolutionary pea protein,” shared Christine.
Financially, PIP is in a positive position, with Christine using her business prowess to strengthen its position as they move into a positive revenue generating business.
“As well as our ESG initiatives helping to reduce costs, I’ve found a new building process that has cut $27 million from our initial $54 million building costs of the larger processing plant,” she explained.
As PIP moves forward, Christine and her business are selecting partners who are interested in global product development, as well as finding the best financial partner to support PIP in scaling to meet global demand.
“I’m strategically choosing who is going to be my long-term dance partner,” Christine said.
As PIP’s clean profile protein sells out at their Phase One facility, Christine is excited to move to scaling up the process.
“We have a lot of work to do still, but as we have now proven the selection of synchronistic innovations to Level-Up the entire process, we are now needing to focus more intently on what is most important, and that’s our people. We have an innovative team platform, that will make PIP, “The Place to Enjoy Your Day”. You can have the best product, the lowest equipment costs, dramatic energy savings and the most amazing facility to operate, but without great people, you have nothing. People are what tie the synchronicities together, to truly become a market disruptor. We aim to have our team say, ‘PIP PIP HOORAY!’, every single day,” said Christine