Cargill Inc., one of the world's biggest agricultural companies, is placing more bets on the rapidly growing meat alternatives market.

The Minneapolis-based company is investing an additional $75 million in Puris, the largest North American producer of pea protein, a chief ingredient in vegan burgers and other meat substitutes that are seeing rapid growth. Puris' factory in Dawson, Minnesota, will double its output as a result, Cargill said Wednesday, Aug. 28, in a statement.

Peas have become an unlikely star of the so-called flexitarian movement, marked by consumers looking to add protein from plant-based sources to their diets. Demand for such products, particularly fake burgers and sausages, is soaring, with a Barclays report predicting the sector will reach $140 billion in sales globally in the next decade. Beyond Meat Inc., whose popular plant-based burgers are made from pea protein, has seen the value of its shares increase more than sixfold since an initial public offering May 1.

"This is the future of food," Tyler Lorenzen, Puris president, said in the statement. The Dawson facility supports farmers "with a crop that regenerates their land and that is sustainable" while meeting expanding demand for plant-based products, he said.

Cargill and Puris announced a joint venture in January 2018 with an initial investment of $25 million that added capacity at the Turtle Lake, Wisconsin, production facility. Puris also has a factory in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

This is article was written by Lydia Mulvany, a reporter for The Washington Post.