Burcon launches new plant protein blends, forms JV to build new production plant

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / a_namenko
© Getty Images / a_namenko
Plant protein is hot, but while pea and rice are booming, protein from canola is yet to take off. That may change as Canada’s Burcon NutraScience Corporation launches new pea and canola protein blends, and announces a new joint venture to build a C$65 million pea-protein and canola-protein commercial production facility.

The new protein production facility, which will reportedly process about 20,000 tonnes of peas per year starting in mid-2020 when it comes online, will also produce Burcon’s Supertein, Puratein and Nutratein canola proteins.

The plant, which will be located in Western Canada, will be operated by Burcon Functional Foods Corporation, a new operating entity formed via a joint venture partnership between Burcon and an unnamed investor group.

Johann Tergesen, Burcon’s president and chief executive officer,​ said the announcement will allow Burcon to bring its unique plant proteins to market directly as a producer.

“Having the capacity to produce both our unique pea proteins, as well as our canola proteins, in our own production facility is a key pillar of our differentiation strategy. 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.  We look forward to offering our pea and canola protein products to customers and consumers in Canada, North America and worldwide,” ​said Tergesen.

New protein blends – ‘a competitive advantage’

The company also announced a new range of blends of its pea and canola protein, which is claims provide protein quality equivalent to or exceeding dairy and meat.

Its Peazazz pea protein and Supertein canola protein are not new, but the blend of the two, which Burcon is branding Nutratein-PS, is said to have a clean flavor and high solubility, and is positioned for dairy-alternative beverage fortification, or for standalone beverages with a nutritional value consistent with the gold standard of cow’s milk.  

A blend of the Peazac pea protein and Puratein canola protein is branded as Nutratein-TZ, and reportedly has functional properties suited for plant-based meat products such as veggie-burgers, or veggie-sausages.  Both Nutratein proteins are over 90% pure protein, said the company in a release.

According to Burcon, both blends have a PDCAAS scores of 1.0, making them equivalent to dairy protein (peas have a PDCAAS score of less than 0.8, however, said the company.

Tergesen said: “The ability to blend Burcon’s unique pea and canola proteins to create nutritionally unparalleled plant protein combinations in our Nutratein product family, while preserving the highly desirable functional properties the proteins naturally possess, will give us a true competitive advantage, marking a key pillar of our leadership strategy in the rapidly growing plant protein market worldwide.”

New JV

The pulse proteins will be produced, sold, and distributed by the new operating entity, Burcon Foods, and this includes Peazazz and Peazac pea proteins, and the Supertein, Puratein and Nutratein canola proteins. This will be done via a 20-year exclusive license agreement with between Burcon and the new JV.

Burcon will own 40% of the new JV, with the other 60% owned by the unnamed investor group, which is described as having “extensive operations expertise in production facility design and startup, as well as considerable expertise in the manufacturing and sale of plant proteins”​.

Canola © Getty Images weiXx
© Getty Images / weiXx

Canola is one of the world’s most important oilseed crops, and, after pressing the valuable oil from canola, the residual meal has traditionally been sold as animal feed. Burcon developed technology to obtain two distinctly different canola protein fractions from canola meal for human consumption. The company’s Puratein and Supertein ingredients have received a letter of no objection from the FDA for their GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status (GRAS Notfication was submitted by ADM)​.

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