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Burcon in talks to commercialize ‘invisible’ pea protein isolate

By Elaine Watson , 15-Nov-2011
Last updated on 15-Nov-2011 at 17:47 GMT

Burcon presiden Johann Tergesen rings the bell at NASDAQ
Burcon presiden Johann Tergesen rings the bell at NASDAQ

Canadian plant protein specialist Burcon NutraScience Corporation is in talks with a potential partner to commercialize its novel pea protein isolate ‘Peazazz’ and the associated extraction technology.

Details of the discussions have not been disclosed, said the firm, which recently struck a deal with ADM to manufacture and sell its ‘invisible’ soy protein Clarisoy. “Burcon has entered into a confidentiality and material transfer agreement to facilitate these discussions.”

Invisible pea protein

Like Clarisoy, Peazazz is 100% soluble and transparent in low pH solutions with clean flavor characteristics.

It is also heat stable, enabling it to be used in hot fill beverage applications, said Burcon, which is best-known for developing the technology to extract novel canola protein isolates - although it has yet to strike a deal with a partner to commercialize them.

“Pea protein is a relatively new, vegetable-based, functional protein ingredient valued for its emulsifying properties. Pea proteins currently available in the market are sold for use in a variety of food products including: snacks and cereals; diet products (high protein foods); gluten-free and vegetarian and vegan foods.”

Patent protection

Burcon has filed patent applications with the US Patent and Trademark Office to protect the production process for Peazazz, along with the product itself and its functional and nutritional applications in consumer products, said president and chief operating officer Johann Tergesen (pictured).

“Our team of scientists and engineers has once again proven their ability to push the envelope in developing unique plant protein ingredients with our first protein from a source other than oilseeds. Peazazz offers yet another platform for Burcon to monetize our technology.”

Strategic direction

Unlike plant protein rival BioExx, which manufactures its own products (canola proteins), Burcon has sought partners to manufacture and sell proteins extracted using its technology, Tergesen told NutraIngredients-USA last month.

“We are a technology company. We don’t have the production expertise or the experience in selling, marketing and distributing food ingredients.”

Pea protein

While pea protein is not new – French ingredients giant Roquette and Manitoba-based pea ingredients specialist Nutri-Pea have been selling pea proteins for some years – it is not as well-established as soy protein.

However, the fact that pulses are non-allergenic, non-GM and ‘greener’ than soy beans given their ability to lock in nitrogen from the air, has started to attract the interest of buyers looking for alternative sources of protein.

Meanwhile, the amino acid profile of pea protein is well balanced, high in lysine and low in sulphur amino acids.

Roquette, which makes the Nutralys branded pea protein from dry pea (Pisum Sativum), has developed a process it claims eliminates most saponine molecules, which are partly responsible for the taste of bitterness in peas

While it can be used as a functional ingredient for emulsifying properties, it also provides an “efficient source of protein for particular nutritional needs such as sport and slimming foods”, says the firm.

Nutri-Pea, meanwhile, says its Propulse and Propulse N pea proteins offer “a high level of functionality and nutrition with a superior amino acid profile” and an “excellent means of protein fortification without significant alteration in color, flavor or odor.”