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Pea, canola protein processing plant planned for outside Winnipeg

Protein processor Burcon working with hemp sector veterans

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Burcon's technical centre in the Fort Garry district of Winnipeg. (Glen Hallick photo)

MarketsFarm — Somewhere outside Winnipeg, a new pea and canola processing plant is scheduled to be in production by August 2020.

The $65 million facility is expected to process up to 20,000 tonnes of yellow field peas annually and will be the world’s only commercial-scale food-grade canola protein production facility. No figure for the plant’s canola processing capacity was provided.

The plant is to be operated by Merit Functional Foods, in a joint venture with Burcon NutraScience.

Merit Foods — whose leadership comes from Shaun Crew, Barry Tomiski and Ryan Bracken, formerly of Hemp Oil Canada, which was recently acquired by Tilray — is expected to invest up to $16 million into the facility.

Vancouver-based Burcon announced its partnership with the former Hemp Oil team last month, having already announced plans in May to build a joint-venture pea and canola protein plant at an unspecified site somewhere in Western Canada.

The plant is expected to employ up to 85 people and will be located somewhere outside Winnipeg, though officials with Burcon declined to specify where.

Merit said Monday it had already entered a purchase agreement for the land and plans to start construction this fall.

Unique to processing, the plant is expected produce a canola protein for human consumption using non-genetically-modified canola. It will be blended with pea protein to create Nutratein.

Burcon already processes and markets pea protein products under the names Peazazz and Peazac, along with canola protein products Supertein and Puratein, and Clarisoy soy proteins. In 2013 it commissioned and today operates its own protein isolate production plant in Winnipeg.

“As canola is rich in the essential amino acids that pea is deficient in, the combined blend delivers protein quality equal to or exceeding that of dairy, eggs or meat,” Burcon CEO Johann Tergesen said.

Nutratein is to come in two varieties: one for veggie burgers, the other suited for protein-fortified beverages such as almond milk or pea milk.

“The ability to blend our pea and canola proteins to create nutritionally unparalleled plant protein combinations, while preserving the highly desirable functional properties the proteins naturally possess, will give us a true competitive advantage,” Tergesen said.

The plant will contract with farmers to provide a reliable supply of peas and non-GMO canola, he said.

This is the second major pea processing operation announced recently for Manitoba, following Roquette’s announcement of a $400 million, 125,000-tonne-capacity plant near Portage la Prairie, due also to open in 2020.

— Glen Hallick writes for MarketsFarm, a Glacier FarmMedia division specializing in grain and commodity market analysis and reporting. Includes files from Glacier FarmMedia Network staff.

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