Bunge investing $30 million in Manitoba pea and canola protein extraction plant

Bunge Limited is investing C$30 million in a plant-based protein production facility that’s under construction in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The multinational agribusiness is acquiring a minority stake in Merit Functional Foods, which is slated to begin producing novel pea and canola protein ingredients for human consumption at its new plant by December of this year.

“We’re excited to have a global partner like Bunge recognize our mission and assist us in accelerating our plans and path to launch,” Merit’s Co-CEO Ryan Bracken said. “Bunge also holds a deep knowledge of international commodity markets which will help reinforce our canola business with customers globally.”

Bunge, which operates four canola processing plants in western Canada, will also supply Merit with inputs for producing proteins from canola that can be used in plant-based foods and beverages, including meat and dairy alternatives.

Merit was established in 2019 as a joint venture between Burcon NutraScience Corporation and several food industry executives.

The 94-thousand square-foot plant that’s being built in Winnipeg’s Centreport was originally billed as a $65 million facility, but the project has rapidly grown. As of last month, the company said the estimated cost of the plant had grown to $150 million.

Earlier this year, the company signed an agreement with Nestle to develop and commercialize novel plant protein ingredients for use in Nestle’s plant-based foods and beverages.

Last month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighted nearly $100 million in federal financing for the Merit project, including $9.2 million from Protein Industries Canada and $90 million in repayable contributions and debt financing.

Merit has said it expects to purchase 10,000 metric tonnes of yellow peas and 17,000 tonnes of canola seed in its first year. A multi-phase plan for the facility would see demand grow to over 100 thousand tonnes annually.

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