Protein Industries Canada Announces $6.9M Project for Novel Hemp and Sunflower Protein Ingredients

Protein Industries Canada unveils a new initiative aimed at bolstering the nation’s supply of protein-rich ingredients derived from hemp and sunflower.

This venture, backed by a collaboration with Burcon NutraScience, HPS Food & Ingredients, and Puratos Canada, aims to bolster the supply of plant-based protein ingredients in Canada and offer food manufacturers an expanded array of protein alternatives focused on both functionality and taste.

“There is a significant gap between the needs of consumers today and the performance of plant proteins on the market”

This project is notable in its approach to acknowledging the applications of hemp and sunflower flour, through which Burcon seeks to extract hemp protein isolate, sunflower protein isolate, and sunflower protein concentrate. These ingredients, novel to the market, are anticipated to cater to the needs of food and beverage manufacturers striving to provide Canadian consumers with nutritious, sustainable, and flavor-neutral protein selections for plant-based meat alternatives.

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, noted, “This Global Innovation Clusters project is another example of our commitment to fostering innovation in the development of plant-based products and technologies, recognizing their potential to drive sustainable economic growth and provide healthy food options to consumers. By leveraging hemp and sunflower proteins for innovation, Protein Industries Canada and its partners are helping strengthen Canada’s ecosystem and the economy.”

Burcon Nutrascience
© Burcon Nutrascience

Advancing the alternative protein sector

This initiative is part of Protein Industries Canada’s broader commitment to advancing the alternative protein sector, both in Canada and globally. Recent investments in oat and pulse ingredients, along with funds to increase AI in plant-based food production, are evidence of this, along with collaborations with Innovate UK and a university in The Netherlands. The organization further partnered with Konscious Foods and Canadian Pacifico Seaweeds to enhance plant-based seafood alternatives in Canada last month.

The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, commended the initiative for its potential to advance Canada’s agricultural and economic sectors by introducing new, sustainable food ingredient options and reinforcing the plant-based food and ingredient sector’s innovative edge.

Burcon and HPS are collaboratively examining different hemp crop varieties to identify those best suited for ingredient production. At the same time, they’re also enhancing the necessary processing technology. Meanwhile, Puratos is partnering with Burcon to integrate these innovative ingredients into a range of food and beverage products. This includes items within the baking, beverage, and meat substitute industries.

Burcon's protein uses
© Burcon

Bridging the gap

With a total investment of $6.9 million, of which Protein Industries Canada contributes $3 million, the project aims to bridge the existing gap between consumer needs and the current performance of plant proteins.

Burcon’s CEO, Kip Underwood, stated, “There is a significant gap between the needs of consumers today and the performance of plant proteins on the market. We are excited to launch new-to-the-world high-purity hempseed and sunflower seed protein ingredients that exhibit superior taste, texture, color, and functionality. Better products start with better ingredients and Burcon has the proteins to meet this need.”

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