Protein Industries Canada (PIC) is providing its second investment into a $19.1 million project with the aim of commercializing high quality plant-based proteins.

The project will focus on proprietary pea protein and canola protein isolates — including introducing the world’s first highly soluble, highly functional canola protein isolate.

“This project is a great example of why the Innovation Supercluster Initiative was created,” says Bill Greuel, CEO of PIC. “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 consortium leading the project — made up of Merit Functional Foods of Winnipeg, Man.; Pitura Seeds from Domain, Man.; and Winning Combination of Winnipeg, Man. — will invest $9.5 million, with an equal investment from PIC.

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.

The new products will be processed by Merit Functional Foods once phase one of its new state-of-the-art plant protein facility is open in late 2020. The facility is located in Winnipeg, and it’s expected that roughly 20,000 metric tonnes of peas and canola will be purchased from western Canadian growers. Upon completion of phase three, that number is expected to exceed 100,000 metric tonnes.

Once the project is complete, it 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 result in the employment of more than 200 people.

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