Christine Lewington, a grandmother known as the ‘Pea Queen’, has created a £119 million (USD 150M) food empire centred on the yellow pea.
Despite leading a business of such magnitude, the 51-year-old lives modestly in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. She drives a friend’s car and mends her shoes with super glue, having rejected a $50M offer for her brand secrets, as she’s driven not by money but by community service.
Christine’s journey with PIP International, which started in 2019, reflects her lifelong entrepreneurial spirit. From running a babysitting service at 12 to engineering studies on a volleyball scholarship, leading to a career in food processing with major brands like Pepsi and Doritos, she has always been driven.
Her venture into pea protein began with a shared investment of $165,000 for a novel technology from a French lab. By January 2021, she invested over $5m to convert a craft beer brewery into a pea-processing factory, testing and proving this technology.
The yellow pea, chosen for its local availability and cost-effectiveness, was traditionally used as animal feed. Christine’s innovation has transformed it into a sought-after ingredient, with her product already oversold sevenfold. She aims to create 45 local jobs by January 2024.
Her family is integral to the business, with her daughter in marketing and her son working at an affiliated solar farm. A grandmother to Adria Rose, 6, and expecting another grandchild, Christine balances her demanding work life with cherished family time.
She works tirelessly, often 18-hour days, to produce a pea protein that enhances dairy alternatives’ nutrition, taste, and texture without requiring sweeteners to mask any bitterness.
Christine’s method also contributes to water sanitation technologies, aligning with her goal of philanthropy and clean water provision in developing countries.
Driven by the desire to leave a positive legacy rather than financial gain, Christine aims to disrupt the food industry with clean technology and inspire others in sustainable investment.
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