A Taste of Clean, Sustainable and Scalable Food Production

“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.”Connor Yuen (CEO at Pontus Protein Ltd.)

Green and clean technologies are on the rise, making impressive advancements to help us combat climate change when it comes to the electrification of vehicles or the generation and storage of renewable energy. But there is another form of energy that needs to be fixed: Food. The global food system is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all emissions from vehicles, heating, air conditioning and lightning combined. It‘s the food system that‘s driving the planet towards climate catastrophe, yet at the same time leaving billions of people either underfed or overweight. Can you imagine that we‘ll need to produce more food in the next 3 decades than we have in the last 8,000 years of agriculture combined? How are we going to do that?

Pontus Protein Ltd. (TSX.V: HULK) has the answer: Innovation.

In 2014, Steve McArthur was experimenting with prototypes combining indoor vertical farming with aquaponics, an ancient-old method of food production coupling aquaculture (raising fish) with hydroponics (growing plants in water), whereby the nutrient-rich water, in which the fish live in, is fed to grow plants. Both the fish and the plants thrive and prosper in a perfect symbiosis, eliminating the need for arable land and added chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers.

Steve wanted to create a vertically growing aquaponics system that could be built anywhere in the world and reduce the land footprint needed to produce an abundance of food. In 2015, he built his first facility and then sold fresh vegetables and fish to locals in Victoria, B.C., Canada. Yet he was looking for scalability, so he engaged mechanical, electrical and automation engineers to help develop a state-of-the-art aquaponics system. Fast forward to today and Steve is now CTO at Pontus and aiming to disrupt the food industry with a passionate team of experts dedicated to make a difference.

The Future of Food Supply is Here and Now

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change things, build a model that makes the existing model obsolete.”Buckminster Fuller
(1895-1983; American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, futurist)

“We’re really excited about our first few products. Unlike other plant proteins, we will provide a complete amino acid profile, with vitamins, including 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.” – Steve McArthur (CTO at Pontus Protein Ltd.)

Pontus Protein Ltd. is on a mission to provide the world with an environmentally sustainable source of nutrient-rich, purely organic and biosecure foods. Having raised $3.25 million in January 2021, the Vancouver-based company is on track to enter the market later this year with plant-based protein products made from water lentils in a state-of-the-art, yet-to-be-completed aquaponics facility in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. The facility is to be powered by cutting-edge technology to maximize efficiency, quality and sustainability.

“Using a vertically growing aquaponics system could minimize the land footprint needed to produce an abundance of food.” – Steve McArthur (CTO at Pontus Protein Ltd.)

When built, the 20,570 sq ft (1,911 m2) facility is projected to produce ~6.4 metric tonnes of dried water lentils powder annually. Once in operation, the facility is scalable for further growth while more of such facilities could be built almost anywhere worldwide under licencing agreements with Pontus. For the future, Pontus is also considering growing other kinds of plants, such as organic greens, herbs, spices, medicinal botanicals, and vegetables.

Steve McArthur (Pontus’ CTO) at the company’s R&D site. Photograph by Adrian Lam (Times Colonist) for Andrew Duffy’s article  “Aquaponics firm eyes a green future, with lentils in starring role” (May 2020)

The Pontus Solution

Rapid Growth = High Crop Yield: Water Lentils are “photosynthesis megafactories“ as each leafy plant doubles its biomass every 36-48 hours in natural sunlight. Pontus‘ new facility aims to reduce that time to just 24 hours, creating crop yields on a daily basis throughout the entire year (on average ~17.5 kg/day in form of dried powder).

Proprietary Water Lentil Core Stock: Pontus has developed a proprietary blend of five non-GMO water lentil species (one was protein-rich, one was a hyper-accumulator and the final three brought high nutrients to the end-product).

Pure, All-Natural Product: When it comes to plant-based proteins, not all are created equally. Pontus prides itself 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. Water lentils have been described to taste like a cross between kale and spinach with notes of Matcha tea (without any fishy taste). Pontus‘ biosecure production techniques are specifically designed to eliminate chemicals and toxins found in virtually all competitive plant-based protein supplements. Pontus’ biosecurity measures are aimed at eliminating the cross-contamination or exposure of Pontus’ products from harmful diseases or biological agents.

Natural Symbiosis: Pontus‘ uniquely designed aquaponics system synergistically combines hydroponics (plants grown in water) with aquaculture (fish farming) in a symbiotic environment. The by-products of the fish are broken down by nitrifying bacteria in the water, whereafter these nutrients are used to fertilize the plants. As a result, the plants filter CO2 out the water, which is then returned as O2 back to the fish. The water is recirculated back to the aquaculture system, establishing a closed-loop system, being 100% organic. The plants are important in the process of bioremediation as they grow rapidly, absorbing excess mineral nutrients. For these reasons, they are touted as “water purifiers of untapped value“. Any fish waste is converted by microbes into fertilizer for the plants, which in turn filter the water for the fish.

Sustainably Raised Organic Fish: Overfishing and rising temperatures and are among the greatest threats our oceans are facing today. The organic fish for the Pontus facility is sourced from trusted breeders. The rainbow trout used as the nutrient delivery vehicle in the Pontus facility is eventually sold as high-quality organic fish for premium market prices. Each year, approximately ~11,550 rainbow trouts (~10.5 tonnes) are raised to market size (~1.1 kg) and sold, representing roughly 10% of Pontus’ projected gross revenues. Pontus‘ aquaponics ecosystem has been designed to mimic rivers to ensure the fish and plants have enriched lives as they are a vital element of the aquaponics cycle.

Minimal Waste is produced as virtually 100% of the water lentil leaves are harvested, dried and crushed into powder. Any plant roots, fish waste, and other compostable materials are processed to produce high-quality soil on a continuous basis. The end-product is a probiotic, microorganism, micronutrient and mineral-rich soil. This worm-rich fertilizer is produced by hot-bin composter and then further digested in a vermicomposting reactor.

Water Efficiency: Water might become one of the most sought-after commodities globally over the next decades. Already today, fresh water sources are becoming scarce and heavily regulated in many regions (e.g. California, Nevada). By recycling used water in its closed-loop aquaponics system, Pontus’ new facility is designed to use 95% less water than traditional agriculture.

Low Energy Consumption: Water lentils are grown in tanks on shelves under LED lighting. Pontus plans to install solar panels at its facility to capture renewable energy and power the operation. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning systems control energy usage.

Near-Zero-Carbon Footprint: As the plants filter CO2 out the water, technology to be used at the Pontus facility minimizes energy and water costs.

Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning Technologies: Pontus owns one of the most technologically advanced farm management systems, a proprietary technology system that incorporates machine learning and Artificial Intelligence: CEVAS™ (Closed Environment Vertical Aquaponics System) – the outcome of years of research, development, and engineering relating to aquaponics. The AI can automatically fine-tune environmental parameters within the production farm to boost productivity, maintain the health of the environment for the plants and fish, save on energy, and act as a smart security system. CEVAS utilizes sophisticated control technologies and collects thousands of data points every minute which are fed into the secure big-data warehouse. CEVAS facilitates automated harvesting and processing technologies seeking to maximize crop yield and ensure organic quality. Pontus owns the exclusive worldwide licence to the CEVAS™ technology, which was developed by Green Oasis Foods Ltd., where Pontus‘ CTO, Steve McArthur, also serves as CTO.

News Highlights

On March 31, 2021, Pontus announced: “The equipment is on track to be delivered to meet Pontus’ construction schedule, allowing the start of production in Summer 2021. The Surrey Facility is expected to be capable of producing 6.4 metric tonnes of annualized product [Pontus Protein Powder™]. This is a 6,800% increase in production over the annualized capacity of the Company’s previous Victoria test farm... The 20,570 sq ft. Surrey Facility will consist of production, warehouse, R&D, a test kitchen, production kitchen and office space.“

On April 15, 2021, Pontus announced the appointment of Marc Laberge to its Advisory Board: Mr. Laberge is one of the world‘s pioneers in commercial aquaponics, having advised NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA) on food in space and designed a 600-tonne aquaponics facility in China. He approached aquaponics as a fish biologist, with over 34 years of expertise in recirculating technology, and has been an aquatic consultant since 1991, through ML Aquaponics Inc. Mr. Laberge helped design the fish section of the aquaponics that will seek to drive Pontus‘ commercial farming facility in Surrey, British Columbia.

Mr. Laberge commented: “I am delighted to be joining the Pontus Board of Advisors. I have enjoyed collaborating with Steve McArthur over the years and am excited to advise on Pontus‘ Controlled Environment Vertical Aquaponics System or CEVAS for short. It is one of the most advanced aquaponic solutions globally.“

Steve McArthur, Pontus‘ CTO, added: “Marc brings years of aquaponics experience to Pontus and strategic depth to our team. Having Marc on our Board of Advisors will facilitate scientific and engineering collaborations. This will enable us to continuously improve our closed vertical aquaponics system, especially as we optimize the automation and farm management robotics.“

On March 25, 2021, Pontus announced to have completed a further strategic milestone to prepare the company for entry into the global nutraceutical market (dietary supplements, functional beverages and foods industry) by having signed a LOI (Letter Of Intent) with CCSC Solutions Inc., a private British Columbia corporation focused on compliance, sales and distribution into the nutraceutical market.

Chuck Yip, President and CEO of CCSC and member of Pontus‘ Advisory Board, commented: “The nutraceutical market is growing rapidly as people are seeking to eat themselves healthy. My extensive supply chain management and senior level operations management experience will help Pontus on both the manufacturing and distribution side. Managing the supply chain for the largest nutraceutical brands in North America, I saw companies using alternative proteins, struggling to find high quality, pure protein. I also saw issues with contaminants, such as lead. I am looking forward to introducing Pontus to my many industry colleagues. They will be excited that there is a Canadian grown, natural product that not only is high in protein but also has a broad nutritional profile and is clean, without pollutants, pesticides, chemicals and toxic metals such as lead. Working with Pontus now, we can ensure we have customers ready when the Surrey facility is in full production.”

“Pontus has retained Evolve Branding to work with the team to deliver the name and packaging as well as develop the on-shelf branding for the first three products in the Pontus range. Senior Creative Director, J.R. Lopez said, “We’re looking forward to working with Pontus to develop their first few products. Pontus was a pre-Olympian water god, a great base to build some strong brands that can stand up on shelf and clearly differentiate from the other protein and high nutrition products.” (“Developing Pontus’ First Three Retail Products“, April 2020)

On March 11, 2021, Pontus announced the signing of a LOI with Canadian T&J International Development Inc., a private arm’s length British Columbia corporation, and distributer to 80% of all Asian Supermarkets in Western Canada, with products including the well-known Natural World brands. The Agreement between Pontus and T&J covers potential distribution and sales of both Pontus Protein and Pontus Foods added-value products. T&J is an international trader that supplies over 200 products. T&J has established sales and distribution channels for quality products at supermarkets including T&T, Lucky Supermarkets, H-Mart, Foody World, A-mart and China World (and Walmart in China) as well as online via Amazon.

On March 4, 2021, Pontus announced the signing of a LOI with Blue Ocean Tea Company, a private arm’s length British Columbia corporation (a leading tea beverage designer and manufacturer having worked with Revolution Tea, Ministry of Tea, UK, Wize Tea, JusTea Beverages) to develop ready-to-drink and portion-packed beverages using Pontus Plant Protein. Blue Ocean will be able to sell Pontus Water Lentils to its supply chain and distribute the raw ingredient to its current clients. The LOI is an expression of interest between Pontus and Blue Ocean covering product development, production, distribution and sales. Through Blue Ocean’s market understanding and market connections, both companies anticipate the development of an international tea brand. In addition, Blue Ocean might be able to sell Pontus Water Lentils to its supply chain and distribute the raw ingredient to its current clients.

Mark Arathoon, Blue Ocean‘s CEO and fourth generation tea industry expert, commented: “The Tea and Herbal Association of Canada has polled consumers over the past six months and identified that during COVID, people wanted beverages that they can feel good about. As we return to normality, people want products to take care of themselves. I believe with Pontus, we can be post pandemic ready with a range of products. When I saw Pontus in the media, I reached out to the company as I could see a real opportunity with the high protein, fibre, iron and amino acids in Pontus’ products to meet the growing demand for functional beverages. My initial analysis has been very positive, I like the taste and working with the product, and there is an interest from my clients, too. When I was in the US, I identified the potential of Rooibos, I can see Pontus Protein being bigger than Rooibos, especially in North America.”

Connor Yuen, Pontus‘ CEO, added: “Our market analysis identified the $55 billion global tea market as an effective early target for Pontus’ added value products. The tea market’s stated forecast growth is 6.6% CAGR, with the fastest growth predicted in products with the addition of other healthful ingredients, such as Pontus Plant Protein. We are so fortunate to have Mark and his team’s experience on our doorstep and look forward to exploring both ready to drink and packaged beverages, to capture this market opportunity.”

On February 17, 2021, Pontus announced the proposed acquisition of Ephémère Catering & Consulting Inc. to vertically integrate product development: Ephémère currently provides catering and product consultation services to its customers and through its Ephémère Supper Club, operates private dining experiences. With this strategic acquisition, Pontus will strengthen its product development and food education program to create value-added functional foods and develop the Company’s top line growth by expanding its customer base and creating a deeper market need for Pontus Protein. Following the completion of the acquisition, Ephémère’s Culinary Director, Shahni Arshad, will assume the role of Pontus’ Culinary Director and Head Chef and be responsible for development of recipes and products incorporating Pontus Protein. Furthermore, Pontus is pleased to announce that Ephémère’s Consultant, Gianni Picchi, will provide ongoing consultancy services for Pontus. Mr. Picchi is a world-renowned restaurateur and formerly head chef at Winston’s in Toronto, the iconic Banff Springs Hotel, Chateau Victoria and most recently, Il Giardino in Vancouver. Through Ephémère, Mr. Arshad has built a reputation for creating innovative dishes for clients and will, subject to the completion of the acquisition, be the primary point of contact for companies in the food and beverage industry looking to enrich their products with Pontus Protein and other products that Mr. Arshad and Mr. Picchi will create. Furthermore, Mr. Arshad and Mr. Picchi will continue build out Ephémère’s meal kit delivery service, which will primarily include the incorporation of Pontus’ current and future products in various formulations. Pontus anticipates the meal kit delivery system will be a significant revenue driver for the Company, as this sector has experienced significant growth over the last year, particularly in light of the decline in people attending restaurants and instead choosing to eat at home. Mr. Arshad’s experience running commissaries will be well suited to his new role with the Company and the Company’s growth. Ephémère brings with it a dedicated following of food lovers looking for innovative dishes and the acquisition will enable the Company to immediately reach Mr. Arshad’s existing audience while continuing to grow Ephémère’s following through social media outlets, TV, and live appearances.

Connor Yuen, Pontus‘ CEO, stated: “I am delighted with this acquisition and that Shahni and his team have agreed to join Pontus. Shahni has developed incredible recipes and products that we are excited to integrate into our business, including frozen smoothies and pasta. Gianni’s experience running some of the best restaurants in the country will ensure we have quality as well as nutritious products. Focusing on Pontus Protein, we hope Shahni and Gianni will accelerate our product development to deliver unique value added and delicious functional foods with their creativity and culinary skills. We are fortunate to have two great ambassadors, and will focus each to the right audiences, to build depth in the markets as we promote the use of Pontus Protein in homes, recipes, meal kits and cooking classes, at catered events, online and on TV.”

Gianni Picchi, global master chef, restauranteur and now consultant to Pontus, added: “I am thrilled and honoured to be a part of Pontus, the new leader of plant based protein food for the future, there I can put to work my lifetime of knowledge, creativeness and expertise developing new products towards a sustainable energy saving future for generations to come! – We are what we eat”

Full size / Source

Initial Product Range

Excerpts from “Developing Pontus‘ First Three Retail Products“ (April 2020):

Pontus has started to develop their first three products set to go to market after the construction of their primary farm...

Steve McArthur, CTO for Pontus, noted: “We’re really excited about our first few products. Unlike other plant proteins, we will provide a complete amino acid profile, with vitamins, 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.”

Pontus Protein Powder
The first product will be a Pontus protein powder. It will be made from pure biosafe-grown water lentils that have been harvested raw, then rinsed, dehydrated and ground to a fine powder.

Pontus To-Go Beverage
The second product will be an easy-to-consume beverage that will be available in grocery and convenience stores, perfect for consumers looking for a highly nutritious low-calorie drink to quench their thirst on-the-go or at the gym. Additional flavours will be added, including honey and fruit.

Pontus Protein Bar
The third product will be a protein bar to target consumers who are looking for a healthier snack or small meal replacement. Made with strictly organic ingredients, the chef’s creation completely blew away the Pontus team at the first taste test. For the marketed product, Pontus powder will be combined with dates, oats, seeds and honey. The lack of milk protein will make this bar a smart selection for those with dairy intolerances.

Full size / Source

“About 13 million metric tons of alternative proteins were consumed globally in 2020, just 2% of the animal protein market. We expect that consumption will increase to more than seven times that size over the next decade and a half, to 97 million metric tons by 2035, when the three types of alternatives will very likely make up 11% of the overall protein market. (See Exhibit 1.) Assuming average revenues of $3 per kilogram, this amounts to a market of approximately $290 billion. Already, about 11% of consumers in the US, UK, and Germany are very interested in alternative proteins; 66% are somewhat interested, indifferent, or somewhat not interested; and only 23% are not interested at all, according to a recent study. What will increase their interest? Improved taste and a lower price.“ (“Food for Thought: The Protein Transformation“, Boston Consulting Group, March 21, 2021)

Full size / Source

Full size / See also: “Protein Ingredients Market Global Forecast to 2027“ (Meticulous Research, March 2021)

Market Growth

Excerpts from “Plant-Based Protein Supplements Market Global Forecast to 2027“ (Meticulous Research, October 2020):

The Plant-Based Protein Supplements Market is expected to reach $9.57 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 7.8% during the forecast period of 2020 to 2027. Rising interest in plant-based nutrition, positive outlook towards sports and health nutrition industry, increasing inclination towards a vegan diet, and increasing demand for personalized nutrition are the key factors driving the plant-based protein supplements market‘s growth. Moreover, growing demand from emerging economies in Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa and the increasing availability of innovative plant-based protein supplements are expected to create lucrative opportunities for players operating in this market.

Surging Demand for Immunity Boosting Diet amid COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 outbreak has put tremendous pressure on functional food as well as the nutraceutical industry. Several frontline workers such as doctors, nurses, other medical professionals, hygiene workers or sweepers, and others are battling hard to contain the novel coronavirus‘s spread. The government agencies have advised the citizens to follow a healthy and nutritious diet regime to fight the disease. This is expected to boost the demand for plant-based protein supplements that promote the body‘s good health and optimum functioning by providing the necessary nutrients. Plant-based protein supplements are essential proteins for the growth and repair of human body cells and tissues. Besides providing the building blocks for healthy muscles and tissues, plant protein is also beneficial for weight loss. Plant-based proteins tend to be lower in calories and fat than animal proteins but higher in fiber and essential nutrients attributing to its rising preference. Even though protein supplements are habitually associated with animal products, many plants are also good protein sources. As long as protein comes from various plant sources, vegans and vegetarians can easily meet their protein needs through these supplements. According to The Good Food Institute, the plant-based protein products market witnessed a spike in sales during Q1 2020. More than 50% of consumers have increased their consumption levels, and over 30% have planned to increase in the latter half of 2020. In addition, considering its parent market, dietary supplements sales are increasing during coronavirus pandemic as the dietary supplements help comb or enhance the immune system against COVID-19, according to the article published by Nutrition Outlook. During the last week of March 2020, the sales growth for overall dietary supplements skyrocketed to more than 35.0% in the U.S. As well, according to Glanbia Plc., dietary supplements purchase in retail outlets has increased during April 2020.

Asia-Pacific: the fastest growing regional market
At the regional level, North America is estimated to account for the largest share of the overall plant-based protein supplements market in 2020 majorly due to the higher adoption of nutritional supplements by the consumers in this region with higher health consciousness and high living standards, well-established nutraceutical and functional food industry, a large number of highly established gyms and sports clubs, higher focus on healthy living, and growing clean label trends in the region supporting demand for plant-based products.However, among other regional markets, Asia-Pacific is projected to exhibit robust growth during the forecast period owing to rising awareness on the consumption of healthy diets covering rich protein due to urbanization and growing income level; and the rising indulgence of the large population base in the region in sports & recreational activities; and rising number of fitness centers and sports clubs in the region.

Key Players
The plant-based protein supplements market is highly fragmented with the presence of many small private vendors in the market. Some of the key players operating in the plant-based protein supplements market are Glanbia plc. (Ireland), Now Health Group, Inc. (U.S.), Nutiva Inc (U.S.), The Simply Good Food Co (U.S.), Iovate Health Sciences International Inc. (Canada), MusclePharm Corporation (U.S.), Kerry Group Plc (Ireland), CytoSport, Inc. (U.S.), The Nature‘s Bounty Co. (U.S.), Reliance Vitamin Company, Inc. (U.S.), Herbalife Nutrition, Inc. (U.S.), Danone SA (France), General Nutrition Centers (GNC) Holdings, Inc. (U.S.), Orgain Inc. (U.S.), and True Nutrition (U.S.).

Updated chart:

Beyond Meat Inc. (NASDAQ: BYND) went public in May 2019 at about $45 USD/share. Less than 3 months later, its stock was trading as high as $240 USD.  Last at $137 USD, the market currently values Beyond Meat at a whopping $8.7 billion USD. That’s a big deal and a sign that alternative meat is going mainstream. “I do think it’s a validation of this opportunity,” Beyond Meat’s Executive Chair Seth Goldman noted on the listing date. “It’s easy to be skeptical and say this is a plant-based burger for vegans,” he said, but that niche is too small to support a multibillion-dollar company. Beyond Meat’s valuation, he argued, reflects that it appeals to a much broader audience. “This is about letting people eat what they love, and just doing it with meat made from plants.” ”Beyond Meat sells burgers that contain no meat but taste like they do. Its stated goal is to fix our food system by making such meat alternatives available everywhere and appealing to everyone.”

Full size / BEYOND BURGER: “A burger with taste so rich and texture so meaty, you won‘t believe it’s made from plants.“

This Time it‘s Different

For the past 50 years, we have heard over and over again about how bad it is to eat meat – for our health, the earth, and, last but not least, the animals.

However, all the warnings and advice didn‘t really change people‘s habits. The average American actually increased its meat consumption from about 120 pounds per year in the 1970s to about 140 pounds each year today, the Atlantic wrote in January 2020, just about when the pandemic started.

“But something is changing nonetheless“, the Atlantic reckoned:

“Although nine in 10 Americans don’t consider plants an acceptable substitute for meat, they increasingly consider plant-based “meat” products – like burgers from Impossible Foods, and sausages from Beyond Meat – an acceptable complement. The investment firm UBS projects that the plant-based meat market will grow by a factor of 20 this decade, reaching $85 billion in annual sales by 2030. Cases of plant-based proteins shipped to commercial restaurants rose last year by more than 20 percent, while regular meat’s sales grew by only 2 percent. If these trends continue, per-capita meat consumption in the United States is all but certain to peak this decade. “Peak meat” won’t happen because tens of millions of carnivores suddenly got religion on animal rights, but rather because they were motivated by the opposite of a collective sacrifice: the magic of a longer menu.“

“Successful moral revolutions – including the abolitionist movement, the civil-rights movement, the victories of the suffragettes and 20th-century feminists, and the triumph of gay marriage – have tended to expand the scope of human choice and freedom rather than restrict it. A cultural or moral revolution designed around the elimination of pleasurable options and the restriction of individual human choice is a hard sell, particularly in a country like the U.S., where materialist choice has been elevated to a kind of civic religion. But if the vegetarians and animal-rights activists are right – if the mass torturing of animals is a rolling moral catastrophe that will shame our grandchildren and slow-cook the biosphere – their cause must be won through innovation rather than argument alone... In 10 years, we may look back on the decade of peak meat in the U.S. and recognize that Americans finally reduced their meat consumption, not because they were browbeaten into crossing off their favorite option on the menu, but because the menu got one item longer."

Companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat “have partnered with some of the largest fast-food chains in the world to serve plant-based alternatives for each of the three most popular meats in the West – chicken, beef, and pork. Burger King’s meatless “Impossible Whopper” powered the company to its strongest sales growth in four years. McDonald‘s has responded by partnering with Beyond Meat to test its own version of plant-based burgers in the U.S. Beyond Meat also provides plant-based sausages for breakfast sandwiches at Dunkin’ and Tim Horton’s, while Burger King is testing imitation ground pork on its breakfast menu with something called the “Impossible Croissan’wich... What’s immediately obvious from this long list of meatish items is that investors, corporate executives, and consumers – including, crucially, those who say they would never become vegetarian – are excited about meat produced from plants.“

Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown speaks before ringing the opening bell at Nasdaq on May 2. The company was valued at about $1.5 billion when it went public and skyrocketed to $3.77 billion a day later... Beyond Meat’s team is taking the striking listing-day performance – it’s exceptionally rare for companies to double their listing price – as a sign that they’ve hit on something big.” (Source / Image)

Excerpts from “Good news for Beyond Meat? 95% of people who order vegan burgers when dining out aren’t even vegetarians“ (Marketwatch, August 2019):

The meatless burger is becoming more popular, even among meat-eating consumers. Some 95% of people who purchased a plant-based burger this year also ate meat, new data from market researcher NPD Group shows. While vegetarians and vegans are contributing to the growth in the plant-based market, they still make up a small, single-digit percentage of the U.S. population and thus are not the main contributors to market growth, NPD food analysts note. Some 18% of the adult population is trying to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets, according to the report, and 60% of U.S. adults want more protein in their diets.

“Plant-based burgers allow consumers to substitute without sacrifice. They get the ‘burger’ experience while assuaging their need for more protein and social concerns,” says Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “U.S. consumers have not given up on beef burgers, but are willing to mix things up every now and then.”

The hype is hotter than ever as major fast-food chains jump on the bandwagon. Burger King announced earlier this year that it would take its Impossible Whopper – made from soy protein, potato protein, coconut oil, sunflower oil and heme, a molecule that makes the burger look and “bleed” like meat – national by year-end. Last month, California-based Tex-Mex chain Del Taco sold 2 million of its meatless tacos made with plant-based substitute Beyond Meat two months after its launch, inspiring the chain to roll out meatless burritos. The consumer trend toward meatless meals is making its way into at-home kitchens, too...

Still, dietitians say that ordering a plant-based burger at a fast-food restaurant isn’t necessarily much healthier than eating a regular beef patty, especially if you order fries with it. When you factor in sodium, calories and fat content, plant-based burgers mimic the nutritional profile of their meaty counterparts. The demand for alternative protein is spawning food-cloning companies. Technology [...] is being used [...] to replicate the texture and taste of foods like meatballs, chicken nuggets, cheese and yogurt with alternative proteins.

Full size / Source: Impossible Foods Inc. and Beyond Meat Inc.

The Soy and Pea Problem

Global soy production has more than doubled over the last two decades and is the main source of protein in our global food supply. While almost 80% of the world‘s soy is fed to animals, it is also commonly used as an ingredient in protein products such as the Impossible Burger and the Incredible Burger from Nestlé‘s Garden Gourmet brand. The Beyond Burger uses pea protein instead, touting “NO SOY“ on its product packaging.

94% of all soybeans planted in the U.S. in 2018 were GMO (Genetically Modified Organism). “The United States has by far the highest acreage of genetically modified crops worldwide including maize, soybean, cotton, canola, sugar beets, alfalfa, papaya, squash, and potatoes. Nearly all U.S. soybeans are genetically modified to tolerate herbicides.“ (Source)

January 28, 2021: The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) steps up efforts to protect consumers from food allergens: “Eight foods have been identified as major food allergens“, including soybeans. Since 1999, the FDA has allowed soy products to carry claims about health benefits. However in 2017, the FDA proposed to revoke health claim that soy protein reduces risk of heart disease, citing mixed results in more recent studies of soy‘s possible heart benefits.

“Soy could also have a negative impact on health due to its ability to influence hormones [and cause weight gain]. Soy has even more estrogen like compounds than BPA, which health experts have some of the same concerns about, like the impact on the reproductive system.“ (Source)

WWF is warning that “nature is threatened by unsustainable production and consumption of soy. Soy production generates greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Soy is an intensively grown crop, with high demands for resources: particularly energy, water, agrochemicals and soil. Unsustainable conversion of forests, savannahs and grasslands to farmland, is endangering wildlife and ecosystems, putting traditional, local livelihoods at risk.“

“Soy has also lost popularity because of its impact on the environment. Consumers are no longer singularly interested in personal health, but also demand that products be ethically sourced and harvested. Since the size of soy’s carbon footprint has become public knowledge, consumers – and manufacturers, as a result – have been searching for alternative health additives.“ (Source)

As a result of many consumers following the “NO SOY“ movement, pea protein is used as an alternative, including Beyond Burger, Lightlife Burger from Canada‘s Maple Leaf Foods and dairy products from Ripple Foods.

Peas are grown and produced more sustainably than soy, but as a field crop, pea is “a poor competitor with weeds, especially during the first month after planting“, and as such: “Applying pre-emergence herbicides before planting field pea is encouraged.“ Controlling diseases in field pea typically includes pesticides such as fungicides and insecticides. Fertilizers are also commonly used to grow pea crops.

The manufacturing process of pea protein concentrates and isolates consists of protein extraction, purification and drying. Pea protein is typically separated mechanically rather than the chemical separation of soy and whey proteins. However, concentrated pea protein may have different effects (including possible side effects) than eating the full plant. Pea protein is made by isolating the soluble protein in yellow peas. It differs from ground peas in that most of the fiber and starch have been removed.

Nutritionally, peas are not technically a complete protein as most vegetarian proteins are missing at least one essential amino acid from their protein profile. Peas are lacking the amino acid threonine, also it is low in the amino acid methionine, so people pair it with other proteins. “Pea protein is a rich source of purines, which are substances in both animal and plant foods that the body converts to uric acid. While purines aren‘t bad in normal amounts, excess doses could make it difficult for your kidneys to get rid of all the uric acid. This increases the risk of gout, an inflammatory condition in which uric acid builds up in the blood, creating needle-like crystals in the joints that cause episodes of severe, sudden pain and tenderness.“ (Source)

“Pea proteins have also been criticised for their taste, as they contain a compound called saponins, which can produce a bitter and metallic taste. Depending on the method of processing, pea protein can have a gritty texture. Depending on the method of processing, some pea proteins can contain high levels of anti-nutritional properties such as phytates, lectins, and trypsin inhibitors, which have negative side effects. Phytates affect the bioavailability and digestibility of the protein by forming complexes with essential dietary minerals such as Iron, Zinc, and Calcium, affecting their absorption. Trypsin inhibitors decrease the digestion of the protein. Lectins can impede the uptake of glucose, decrease nutrient transport, and create damage to the mucosal layer of the intestines by binding to carbohydrate molecules. “ (Source)

Demand for pea protein has been so strong that questions have emerged:

“With plant-based protein all the rage right now, consumers seem to have acquired an insatiable appetite for meat alternatives. However, this growth may not be sustainable unless there‘s a sufficient supply of pea protein – a common ingredient in many plant-based items such as the popular Beyond Burger... Food manufacturers may look into other plant-based protein sources to bolster their products should the price or supply of pea protein become unworkable.“

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Full size / Water lentils from Pontus Protein Ltd. 

Only the Best: Water Lentils

“The world’s smallest flowering plant, poised to make an impact in the food & health industries worldwide: Water Lentils“ (Source)

“We will soon likely see water lentils used in vegetarian burgers and meat substitutes. They would be a suitable and superior protein option to other protein alternatives like soy and pea proteins.“ (Source)

“As the demand for nutrient dense and sustainable plant-based protein sources has increased globally, many companies in the food & beverage, nutraceutical, feed, and beauty industries have taken an interest in water lentils as a new solution. With minimal processing, water lentils are poised to make an impact as a protein source for meat alternatives, plant-based milks, sports nutrition, health snack and bakery applications.“ (Source)

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Complete proteins contain all the essential amino acids – the building blocks of proteins – of which there are actually twenty! These twenty “different amino acids ... can form a protein” of which “nine that your body can’t produce on its own.” When I refer to a “complete protein,” such as a water lentil, I’m talking about a protein that contains all “nine essential amino acids – the ones that your body can’t produce.” (Source)

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Based on these facts, one could consider water lentils a superfood. Water lentils are very nutritious compared to many foods, including most legumes and lentils. Water lentils are such a high-quality protein that they are similar in amino acid profile to whey protein powder [sourced from animals]. This is rare and unheard of among plant-based proteins!“ (Source)

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Water lentils contain all of the essential amino acids. A nutrient-rich food and allergen-free food, water lentils also contain many vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, healthy fatty acids like omega 3 fats, and antioxidants. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) statement for water lentils. Aquatic plants like water lentils do not contain any lectins, so are very useful for people who suffer from a leaky gut or autoimmune issues. They fit quite nicely into an autoimmune protocol or AIP recipes. This is why I believe that water lentils make the best non-dairy protein powders out there.“ (Source)

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According to Transparency Market Research, the water lentil protein industry, while still developing, is “expected to experience exponential growth in demand due to the increased need of plant based protein around the globe.“

In the coming decades, the worldwide demand for protein is expected to grow strongly, not only because of the growth of the world population but also because of a change in diet. In the Western World, a switch can be observed from animal protein (meat) towards more “green”, plant-based proteins and meat replacers. This is partly due to environmental and animal well-being concerns in relation to meat production, but also part of lifestyle changes. These trends towards more vegans, vegetarians, and most significantly “flexitarians”, result in a strongly increasing market demand for plant-based proteins for food products.

Unsustainable Food System

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation report “Cities And Circular Economy For Food“ (2019) says unhealthy food production makes healthy eating impossible. Over the last decades, food production has turned to intensive farming and genetically modified foods, compromising quality, nutrition and sustainability. Although the industrialized food system helped to feed a growing world population, it is not sustainable and must change.

In 30 years from now, more than 10 billion people are projected to live on planet earth. Global food production must increase significantly to meet the growing appetite for protein. At the same time, governments are acting to reduce people‘s animal meat and dairy consumption to reach “peak meat“ as early as possible.

“[The] pandemic has shone a light on factory farming as a potential breeding ground for zoonotic diseases. This, in turn, has put a spotlight on plant proteins as part of the solutions to these problems. I believe that innovation with plant-based protein will increase as the coronavirus has made the broader public aware of the shortcomings of animal proteins and the existing trend toward plant-based foods. The ripple effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of our food system with supply chains breaking down and an increase of food insecurity around the world. It is not a coincidence that the animal food sector was the hardest hit. The present crisis acts like a magnifier underscoring the sustainability issues of our food system. The focus on sustainability and health will clearly increase and awareness on the deadly effects of poor diets, which are high-energy and low-nutrient are additionally expected.“ (Source)

Back in the days, we either grew our own food or we knew the farmer who did. Over the course of the last decades, many small farms have been wiped out by large industrial-controlled food systems, destroying natural resources, depleting soils, genetically modifying foods and applying toxic chemicals in an effort to increase yields and profits to feed the masses.

By 2050, 66% of the global population will live in cities, according to “Aquaponics and Global Food Challenges“ (Springer, 2019):

“As reflected in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 2 (UN 2017), one of the greatest challenges facing the world is how to ensure that a growing global population, projected to rise to around 10 billion by 2050, will be able to meet its nutritional needs. To feed an additional two billion people by 2050, food production will need to increase by 50% globally...“

“At the same time, food production will inevitably face other challenges, such as climate change, pollution, loss of biodiversity, loss of pollinators and degradation of arable lands. These conditions require the adoption of rapid technological advances, more efficient and sustainable production methods and also more efficient and sustainable food supply chains, given that approximately a billion people are already chronically malnourished, whilst agricultural systems continue to degrade land, water and biodiversity at a global scale.“

The current food production system is based on a linear approch: “Finite resources are extracted and a lot of waste is produced, which together with pollution, harms natural ecosystems. Besides polluting soil, water, and air, the agrifood industry is accountable for nearly 1/4 of global GHG emissions. This is not a very efficient system, as every second, the equivalent to six garbage trucks of edible food is wasted or lost.“

“The Ellen McArthur Foundation report aims to place the circular economy in the spotlight. The authors say that changing to a circular economy food model will bring many benefits across society and the food value chain. They specifically point out the benefits of such a shift – as well as the consequences of not doing it. The report’s main goal is to offer a vision of a better food system; where waste and pollution are designed out, products have a longer lifespan, and there is a focus on regenerating natural systems.“

Full size / Source: "U.S. green energy push sets global edible oils alight, raises food inflation fears" (Reuters, March 19, 2021)

“World food prices rose for the tenth-consecutive month in March, rising to their highest level since June of 2014. Reuters says the climb got sparked by costs rising in the vegetable oils, meat, and dairy indices.“ (Source: “World Food Price Index Rises For The Thenth-Straight Month“, Newsdakota,  April 9, 2021)


“The global food-price rally that’s stoking inflation worries and hitting consumers around the world shows little sign of slowing... Food prices are in the longest rally in more than a decade amid China’s crop-buying spree and tightening supplies of many staple products, threatening faster inflation. That’s particularly pronounced in some of the poorest countries dependent on imports, which have limited social safety nets and purchasing power and are struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic.“ (Source: “Global Food Costs Keep Climbing in Threat to Consumer Wallets“, Bloomberg, April 8, 2021)


There is evidence that we can fight climate change with our forks. A Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report called “Less Beef, Less Carbon”, with its Director Sujatha Bergen stating:

“If the average American cut just a quarter pound of beef a week from their diet, about one hamburger, it would be the equivalent of taking 10 million cars off the road for a year.”

Pontus Mission

To provide the world with an environmentally sustainable source of pure plant-based protein.

Pontus Protein Ltd. is a Vancouver-based agritech company licences the expertise to build and operate aquaponics farms specializing in the sustainable production of organic plant-based proteins. Pontus‘ expertise includes a farming system creating products which are much more than just protein as they also contain a wide spectrum of naturally occurring nutrient dense attributes. Pontus aims to meet or exceed all of Health Canada‘s and FDA‘s set of requirements for the production and sale of Organic Natural Health Products.

For those who value what they feed their bodies, and what we feed the earth, Pontus provides a responsible solution.


Management Team

Connor Yuen (Chief Executive Officer, Director, Co-Founder)

Connor’s early accomplishments include climbing to the top 1% of executives in one of the most profitable network marketing organizations in the world. Over the past 4 years, Connor has taken his sales aptitude and shifted his focus to understanding financials and securities, primarily in the Cannabis sector. Astute guidance has resulted in a bond of trust with his clients including the founders of Pontus. Connor has strong interpersonal skills, is an accomplished public speaker and was Co-Founder of Planet Preservation Vancouver, a non-profit organization that provides free pick-up services of recyclable items in Vancouver’s lower mainland. Connor’s balanced and environmentally sustainable approach to the industry is one of the key reasons he joined the Pontus team. His goal is to implement plans for the rapid deployment of Pontus facilities nationally and internationally.

Alson Niu (Executive Vice President, Co-Founder)

Alson has worked as a business consultant for the past several years specializing in marketing, branding, and private equity. He co-founded Tracer Digital, a Vancouver marketing solutions company and acts as Director of Corporate Communications at Evolve Branding. Alson has now applied his broad-based consulting experience to disrupt the venture capital and private equity arena as Managing Partner of Vancouver-based Conquest Capital.

Steve McArthur (Chief Technology Officer, Director, Co-Founder)

As Co-Founder of Garden City Aquaponics Inc., Green Oasis Foods Ltd., and Pontus Protein Ltd., Steve is experienced with aquaponic design and has dedicated himself to the future of farming through aquaponics. Steve has worked with several well-recognized engineering firms that have expertise in aquaponics design and operations, and he holds a lead position for aquaponics design for Pontus. Steve also has valuable experience in mechanical engineering, physics, computer science and statistics, and is currently working toward a degree in engineering. He has attended aquaponic training with Nelson & Pade, NOA Fisheries, Green ‘n Aquaponic Farms, You Grow Food, Devon Nurseries, and Mason St. Farms. Steve‘s amassed skills and knowledge with aquaponics give him the tools to effectively move into the water lentil growing industry.

J.R. Lopez (Chief Experience Officer)

JR is a design and strategy veteran with more than 16 years of experience in film and television. A series of successes in blockbuster films started his career. After obtaining an education in graphic communication JR launched an agency with angel investors and began acquiring companies through strategic partnerships and equity deals. As an owner of several businesses, his experience in a wide spectrum of industries gives him an edge in design and brand strategy, and he will drive the customer experience for Pontus.

Jason Ding (Chief Financial Officer)

A Bachelor of Business (BBA) Graduate of Simon Fraser University, Jason has been accredited with both a CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant) and CGA (Certified General Accountant) Canadian certifications. Jason has thrived in fast paced industries with over 15 years of hands-on financial and accounting management positions in a wide range of industries including construction, helicopters, retail, trucking, and software for both private and publicly traded companies.

Company Details

Pontus Protein Ltd.
17686 – 66A Avenue
Surrey, BC, V3S 2A7 Canada
Phone: +1 778 999 4855

Date of Incorporation: April 23, 2018

ISIN: CA7327681069

Shares Issued & Outstanding: 65,903,691

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Canada Symbol (TSX.V): HULK
Current Price: $0.44 CAD (04/16/2021)
Market Capitalization: $29 Million CAD

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Germany Symbol / WKN (Tradegate): D7H0 / A2PQKV 
Current Price: €0.28 EUR (04/16/2021)
Market Capitalization: €19 Million EUR

Rockstone Research
Stephan Bogner (Dipl. Kfm.)
8260 Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Phone: +41-44-5862323

Disclaimer: This report also contains certain information and data taken from various third party sources. Please note that any opinion, estimate or forecast made by the authors of such third party statements presented in this report are theirs alone and do not represent opinions, forecasts or predictions of Pontus Protein Ltd. or its management. Pontus does not, by the reference or distribution of these quotes, links, or citations imply their endorsement of or concurrence with such information, conclusions or recommendations. Further, this report also includes various references to recent statements or information with respect to Beyond Meat Inc., a NASDAQ listed alternative protein company. Pontus advises readers that, notwithstanding that both companies seek to cater to the same consumer bases and market niches, any statements referring to the recent successes of Beyond Meat, implied or otherwise, are not necessarily an indication of Pontus’ potential growth, market appeal, or ability  to commercially exploit the growing nutraceutical and alternative protein markets. Pontus has not conducted any scientific studies on the effects of Pontus’ products which have been evaluated by Health Canada or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As each individual is different, the benefits, if any, of taking Pontus’ products will vary from person to person. No claims or guarantees can be made as to the effects of Pontus’ products on an individual’s health and wellbeing. This report contains forward-looking information or forward-looking statements (collectively "forward-looking information") within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Forward-looking information is typically identified by words such as: "believe", "expect", "anticipate", "intend", "estimate", "potentially" and similar expressions, or are those, which, by their nature, refer to future events. Rockstone Research, Pontus Protein Ltd. and Zimtu Capital Corp. caution investors that any forward-looking information provided herein is not a guarantee of future results or performance, and that actual results may differ materially from those in forward-looking information as a result of various factors. The reader is referred to Pontus Protein Ltd.´s public filings for a more complete discussion of such risk factors and their potential effects which may be accessed through its respective profiles on SEDAR at www.sedar.comPlease read the full disclaimer within the full research report as a PDF (here) as fundamental risks and conflicts of interest exist. The author, Stephan Bogner, does not own any equity in Pontus Protein Ltd., however he owns equity in Zimtu Capital Corp., and is being paid by Zimtu Capital Corp., which company holds a long position in Pontus Protein Ltd. Also note that Pontus Protein Ltd.  pays Zimtu Capital Corp. to provide this report and other investor awareness services.

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Name: Pontus Protein Ltd.
Canada Symbol: HULK
Germany Symbol / WKN: 8YC / A2QNFB
Shares Issued & Outstanding: 65,903,691
Phone: +1 778 999 4855

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