New Partnership To Expand Use Of Western Canadian Plant Proteins

Nov 20, 2020

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Protein Industries Canada (PIC) has announced a project and outside partnership focused on developing new plant-based protein products and ingredients that will be sold to markets in Western Canada and Asia.
 
Mera Food Group, Mera Developments and Benson Farms are partnering to use Western Canadian commodities to develop the products. During the first phase of their project, they’ll use these commodities — including oats, lentils, hemp, fava beans and chickpeas — to develop milks and other products for consumers in Western Canada before targeting Asian markets in the second phase.
 
“With this collaboration, which aims to develop innovative new products from various commodities to be sold locally and in Asia, we’re demonstrating Canada’s agrifood ingenuity to the world. Canada remains at the forefront of this innovation, all the while strengthening our agriculture and agri-food sectors, growing our exports, and diversifying our markets,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
 
Throughout the project, Benson Farms will help determine the best varieties of the commodities to use via trial plots. Mera Food Group and Mera Developments, meanwhile, will focus on developing the plant-based protein products and ingredients, including an outside partnership with Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL). Together, Mera Food Group, Mera Developments and Benson Farms are investing $3.6 million into the project, with Protein Industries Canada investing a further $3.6 million.
 
“The collaborative nature of Mera Food Group, Mera Developments and Benson Farms perfectly represents the potential our sector,” said Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel. “Together, they’re not only helping each other achieve production and processing goals, but they’re also helping other agrifood and retail companies achieve their own growth goals. And ultimately, they’re helping Canada reach new markets and expand the economy, while bringing plant-proteins to the plates of consumers.”
 
While strengthening the plant-protein sector through the development of new products, the partners will also be expanding it by building additional capacity for other agrifood businesses. They will be bringing new co-packaging machinery into the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre, and will make it available for use by other companies.
 
“Mera Development is excited to provide the Consortium with its global expertise in leveraging data and analytics to enhance operational and financial performance,” said Mera Development Corp. CEO Heather Quale. “Through this project, we have the opportunity to utilize our expertise to meet the needs of our customers.”
 
“Benson Farms is pleased to participate in this project with Mera and Protein Industries Canada, and is enthusiastic about finding the best varieties of hemp, oats and pulses for the beverage market,” added Benson Farms Director Tom Benson. “As we work with Mera to ensure these varieties meet the high-quality needs of their ingredients, consumers be assured that they’ll soon see delicious new products in their grocery stores.”
 
To help their products reach Western Canadian consumers, Mera Food Group has signed a partnership alongside the Protein Industries Canada project to work with FCL to develop Co-op Gold Pure Oat Beverage.
 
“Co-op is unique in its ability to be involved in and connect multiple stages of the food-production cycle, from supporting our farm customers growing their crops to putting a finished product on store shelves,” said Ron Healey, FCL’s Vice-President of Ag and Consumer Business. “This partnership with Mera Food Group not only provides Co-op customers with an innovative new plant-based protein product, it also supports our objective to build our communities and the Western Canadian economy.”
 
This $7.2 million project is Protein Industries Canada’s 13th project announcement. Together with industry, they’ve committed $272 million into the plant-protein sector through active technology projects. They are currently accepting their third round of Technology and Capacity Building Expressions of Interest.
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