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Prairie protein supercluster invests in pea, canola processing

Don Horne   


Protein Industries Canada announced their second co-investment into a consortium-led $19.1 million project to commercialize high quality plant-based proteins, focusing on proprietary pea protein and canola protein isolates, including introducing the world’s first highly soluble, highly functional canola protein isolate.

“I am delighted to see continued momentum from the superclusters through new projects and even more investments in the commercialization of new technology,” said Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “This project from the Protein Industries Supercluster will solidify Canada’s reputation as a global leader in plant proteins, while helping to build a stronger agricultural sector by adding value along every step of the value chain.”

The project, when complete, will create a range of products, including ingredients to be used in high-value food applications such as plant-protein beverages and plant-based meat alternatives and employ more than 200 people.

“As the special representative for the Prairies, I know how important the Protein Supercluster is to Winnipeg and the region,” said Jim Carr, special advisor for the Prairies and MP for Winnipeg South Centre. “This new project will help position Canada’s plant-based proteins industry for new markets around the world.”


The consortium – made up of Merit Functional Foods of Winnipeg, Man., Pitura Seeds from Domain, Man. and Winning Combination of Winnipeg – will invest $9.5 million, with an equal investment from Protein Industries Canada. By taking patented technology from Burcon Nutrascience, and with support from the Manitoba Food Development Centre, the project will commercialize the world’s first canola proteins and novel pea protein isolates with more than 90 per cent purity and high solubility in food and beverages.

This high purity improves the pea proteins flavour profile, while high solubility eliminates the grittiness experienced with less soluble proteins

“This project is a great example of why the Innovation Supercluster Initiative was created.” CEO of Protein Industries Canada Bill Greuel said. “The consortium consists of businesses from across the value chain coming together to create new products not currently produced anywhere else in the world. This will increase the demand and value of some of Western Canada’s biggest agricultural commodities – peas and canola – and create new products to sell to customers across the globe.”

The processing of the new products will occur at Merit Functional Foods Plant Protein facility currently being constructed in Winnipeg. When Phase 1 is finished later this year, it is expected that 20,000 metric tonnes of peas and canola will be purchased from Western Canadian growers, adding significant value and creating products for international markets.

Upon completion of Phase 3, that number is expected to exceed 100,000 metric tonnes.

“This investment is exciting and empowering for Merit as it grows as a company,” Merit Co-CEO Ryan Bracken said. “It is helping us overcome many of the hurdles that new companies typically experience, and instead, unlocking numerous opportunities for us – including job creation, technology expansion, and more.”

“Pitura Seeds is proud to partner in this new project, which will bring significant value to Western Canadian farmers,” Pitura Seeds President and General Manager Tom Greaves said.

“We are very excited to be working with two local businesses to produce a Manitoba product that meets the growing global demand in this space,” Chief Operating Officer of The Winning Combination Mark Colley said.

Protein Industries Canada currently has 22 projects being evaluated for investment. The projects represent potential investment of more than $130 million and include projects from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.


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