Following last September's decision to hold off from submitting samples of Puratein and Supertein for regulatory tests, Burcon and collaborator Archer Daniel Midland (ADM) have been carrying out additional research in order to reduce the color and flavor of the proteins.
Canola is the world's second largest oilseed crop after soybeans. It possesses a high level of protein purity without prohibitive fat levels and an amino acid content comparable to animal proteins and superior to that of soy proteins.
Its high protein efficiency ratio - the measure of a growing animal's total weight gain versus the weight of protein consumed during the growing period - is, according to Burcon, more than double that of soy.
Burcon and ADM are currently investigating two possible alterations to the canola protein extraction process. If these achieve the desired color and taste improvements, it is hoped that Puratein and Supertein will be more appealing not only to manufacturers of vegetarian and health foods but also to mainstream companies such as Unilever, Kraft and Nestle.
"We are looking to sell very large quantities on a global basis," president and COO Johann Tergesen told NutraIngredients-USA.com.
Both proteins are suitable for use in protein bars and beverages, but Supertein boasts very high solubility in neutral and acidic environments, making it ideal for use in products like cookies and muffins, donuts and meringues.
"We are more excited by the current applications for Supertein," said Tergesen. "The bigger challenge right now is Puratein, which has the ability to emulsify leading to its uses where it may replace egg. In this case we need to set a very high bar for ourselves."
Projected additional uses for Puratein include vegetable burgers, battered fried goods, mayonnaise, glazes and gels.
The additional research means plans to introduce the proteins to the market in mid-2006 have been pushed back to the first quarter of 2007.
Although this prompted a fall in Burcon's stock price in September, Tergesen points out that, in the overall scheme, the delay is not great: Burcon bought the technology in 1999 from BMW Canola, who had been working on it since 1990 so it has already been 15 years in the pipeline.
Neither is the additional research expected to affect the price of Puratein and Supertein, which will be very competitively priced to animal proteins and occupying a ball park above soy but below egg and dairy proteins.