Plant-based proteins firm Burcon NutraScience Corp. said this week that a new 94,000-sq-ft production facility in Winnipeg, MB operated by its joint venture Merit Functional Foods is ready to start commercial operations.
“This marks another important milestone in the journey for Burcon as a pioneer in the development of novel new plant-based protein ingredients,” Johaan F. Tergesen, the president and chief executive officer of Burcon, said in a company release. “Merit’s new facility is now scaled to supply leading food and beverage customers with the highest purity pea and canola proteins available for use in plant-based applications.”
Construction on the new facility concluded in December 2020. Since then, a team of engineers, management, and technicians have worked to commission the facility, including planning, testing, verifying, and training.
“Production capability at Merit is now at a state where Merit’s team believes it is largely ‘fine tuning’ the overall facility in the commissioning process, by individually balancing the numerous unit-process-operations that together form the overall production capability,” the company stated.
Merit produces a line of pea and canola protein ingredients under license from Burcon and customized protein blend solutions, which are sold under the MeritPro brand. The company said the Winnipeg site is the only commercial-scale facility in the world that can manufacture food-grade protein from canola. A proprietary membrane filtration process licensed by Burcon is used at the location to remove impurities from products and improve their flavor.
“Food quality and safety were top of mind as our facility came to life,” Merit Co-CEO Ryan Bracken said in a separate release. “As brands and consumers become more and more interested about the ingredients that go into their products, we are committed to ensuring that the plant proteins we produce exceed their expectations.”
Burcon started work on the CAD$64 million (about $48 million) Winnipeg plant in September 2019.