The Canadian government has announced financing of almost $100 million for Merit Functional Foods, a producer of plant protein, for its previously announced new Winnipeg facility which will reportedly produce the world’s highest purity and highest quality pea and canola protein. Merit’s CEO states the facility will “redefine plant protein”.
Merit states that its new protein extraction facility will produce plant proteins superior in flavor, solubility, and purity, claiming that this will be the world’s first production plant able to create canola protein suitable for human consumption. CEO Ryan Bracken also states that the new plant will produce “unprecedented pea protein”. The facility is due to be operational by December and will create 80 new jobs.
This January, Merit announced a partnership with Nestlé to develop and commercialize Merit’s novel plant protein ingredients for use in Nestlé’s plant-based foods and beverages. In May, Merit’s venture partner Burcon revealed plans for the Winnipeg facility and told the press it had secured a debt financing package up to $85 million of capital from a syndicate of lenders including Export Development Canada, Farm Credit Canada and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.
The funding package includes $10 million (repayable) from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriInnovate Program; $25 million loan from Farm Credit Canada; $55 million loan from Export Development Canada; and
$9.2 million from the Protein Industries Canada supercluster.
Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau stated: “As people around the world start eating more plant-based food products, we have an opportunity to bring together innovation in Canada and Canadian crops, and a chance to create good, well-paying jobs […] Today, I can announce that our government is contributing almost $100-million for the new Merit Functional Foods location in Winnipeg. This facility will be a world leader in plant-based proteins and will create good jobs in a fast-growing field. And by using 100 percent Canadian inputs, we will also support the farmers who produce canola and yellow peas used in Merit’s products.”
Merit Co-CEO Ryan Bracken said: “This facility is going to be key in redefining plant-based protein. It’s a flexible facility that will produce an unprecedented pea protein and the first canola protein available for use in foods and beverages. Both of these proteins will have functional and nutritional characteristics that will set them apart from other ingredients available on the market.”