A Canadian company is investing in a new facility to process proteins from oilseed rape (canola) and peas for the growing plant protein food ingredients market.

Merit Functional Foods, established in 2029, is a joint venture between existing Canadian plant proteins business Burcon NutraScience and three veteran food industry executives. It is constructing a 94,000-square foot factory in Winnipeg, Manitoba which should be fully operational by the end of the year. The business already has a marketing agreement with multinational food manufacturer Nestle, among other buyers, for its output.

When complete, the factory will be the world’s “first and only commercial facility with the capability to produce food-grade canola protein, a new and exciting entrant to the plant-based protein ingredient segment”, says the company. The pea and canola raw material will be sourced from growers in Western Canada for processing in Winnipeg to ensure sustainability. Burcon already has a canola processing business – Burcon-MB – in Winnipeg.

“This facility is going to be key in redefining plant-based protein,” says Merit Co-CEO Ryan Bracken. “It is a flexible facility that will produce an unprecedented pea protein and the first canola protein available for use in foods and beverages. Both these proteins will have functional and nutritional characteristics that will set them apart from other ingredients available on the market.”

“We’re proud to help elevate Canada as one of the world’s leaders in plant-based protein and sustainable food.”

Merit has secured finance from a consortium of lenders including Export Development Canada, Farm Credit Canada, Agricultural and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). The funding will commercialise and expand production capacity to address the growing global demand for plant proteins.