You no longer have to compromise your values to enjoy your favourite protein shake or smoothie.
Pontus Water Lentils is a Vancouver-based agriculture tech company that specializes in the sustainable production of plant-based proteins. Born out of CTO Steve McArthur’s theory that “using a vertically growing aquaponics system could minimize the land footprint needed to produce an abundance of food,” the first sustainable greenhouse prototype began operating in 2015, supplying fresh produce to grocery stores and restaurants in Victoria, BC.
Fast forward five years later, and Pontus is raising capital to fund a bigger production facility in Delta, BC. The Vancouver farm currently combines hydroponics (plants grown in water) with aquaculture (fish farming). The closed-loop aquaponics system uses only 5% of the water requires for traditional agricultural practices. Connor Yuen, CEO of Pontus Water Lentils, is optimistic about future company growth,“This is not a game changer. It’s a new game. And that’s why at Pontus we can confidently say we are reinventing agriculture.”
Pontus has purchased the global IP for their proprietary CEVAS (Controlled Environment Vertical Aquaponics System) which uses machine learning and AI to measure and manage over 25 farm environment variables to optimize growing conditions, improve nutrient density, and filter out any contaminants in their products. They take precision and bio-security very seriously.
Their first product is a protein powder that features pure dehydrated water lentils–a potential superfood plant which is naturally high in protein, antioxidants, dietary fibre, minerals, and vitamins. Water lentils are fast growing and can be harvested every 24 hours. The whole plant is dehydrated and ground to a fine powder–the end result containing 11 grams of protein per 25 grams of powder!
More astoundingly, water lentils are a natural source of life-sustaining Vitamin B12, which has never been thought to exist in plants before. This makes them a viable plant-based protein source for vegans and vegetarians, who may be at increased risk of long-term Vitamin B12 deficiency.
With the rise of veganism, fitness, and global conscience, society is shifting its focus towards home-grown, organic, and sustainable ingredients from farm-to-table companies who put real heart and soul into their products. A small independent survey was conducted in January 2020 that suggested that 12.2% of Canadians follow some kind of vegan or vegetarian diet. Millennials are not the only ones going meatless; baby boomers and athletes are also increasing their plant-based protein intake. The Pontus team is now working on other nutritious and delicious products, including drinks, bars and sustainable meat alternatives.
When it comes to plant-based proteins, not all of them are created equally. Pontus Water Lentils prides themselves in being organic, sustainable, and non-GMO. No solvents, chemicals, dyes, additives, preservatives, or pesticides are used in any part of the growth or processing cycle. And for those wondering, water lentils taste like a cross between kale and spinach with notes of Matcha tea.
Pontus Water Lentils is gearing up to start offering retail products in store. Steve McArthur, CTO for Pontus, notes, “We’re really excited about our first few products. Unlike other plant proteins, we will provide a complete amino acid profile, with vitamins, including vitamin B12, minerals and antioxidants in an easy-to-add ingredient or grab-and-go packaging. Our products will stay true to Pontus–gluten-free, soy-free, lactose-free, non-GMO, full of prebiotics and a source of dietary fibre.”
There’s been a lot of talk about the need for shorter supply chains in Canada, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The ideal supply of food is not coming from south of the border anymore. Pontus Water Lentils offers a home-grown solution with proud Vancouver roots: ingredients will be grown sustainably in BC, and the final product will be sold and distributed in Canada.