The question of whether canola protein would ever take off was posed by FoodNavigator-USA’s Elaine Watson in 2013, with a particular focus on Canada’s BioExx attempts in this category (BioExx filed for bankruptcy shortly after the publication of that article).
Burcon was the other company active in the space, and as reported last week by NutraIngredients-USA, the company announced a new joint venture to build a C$65 million pea-protein and canola-protein commercial production facility.
This announcement coincided with the launch of a new range of blends of its pea and canola protein, which it claims provide protein quality equivalent to or exceeding dairy and meat.
So, is Burcon confident that the market is now ready for canola protein? Yes, said Johann Tergesen, Burcon NutraScience president and CEO.
“Burcon’s confidence in bringing our canola proteins to market at this time stems from genuine demand we have received from numerous food and beverage companies, who have been trialing our canola proteins in their products,” said Tergesen. “We already have strong customer interest but have been unable, until now, to provide sufficient quantities of our canola proteins to these companies.
“Through proprietary extraction processes, Burcon produces highly purified canola and pea proteins, with protein contents exceeding 90%, which translates to much higher quality than competing proteins, especially in the key value drivers of bland flavour and solubility.
“In terms of taste, texture and overall functionality, food manufacturers who have reviewed and trialed Burcon’s plant proteins, including canola, have told us there is nothing comparable on the market. So, the Burcon research and development team is confident there’s a lot of pent-up interest and demand resulting from our years of working with food manufacturers sampling our proteins in their product formulations.”
Tergesen added that the company expects to see products incorporating its pea and canola proteins to start appearing on store shelves shortly after its new processing facility is commissioned – currently estimated to be around the middle of 2020.
“Customers who are interested in using our proteins can now move forward with confidence that our protein ingredients will be available next year,” he added.
'Boomers represent a huge market opportunity for better-tasting plant proteins'
Demand for plant protein is growing among younger consumers, with surveys reporting this is linked to both health factors and concern for the environment in their decision-making process.
On the other hand, Boomers are more likely to make purchasing decisions dominated by the sensory experience, the organoleptic properties, most importantly taste, said Tergesen.
“The large 55+ consumer group continues to represent a huge market opportunity for better-tasting plant proteins and specifically better-tasting plant proteins like Burcon’s that can also function comparable to the current animal-based proteins used in numerous current foods and beverages,” he said. “In terms of taste, texture and overall functionality, food manufacturers who have reviewed and trialed Burcon’s plant proteins, including our canola, have told us there is nothing comparable on the market.”
Direct control of products
The recent announcement marks a significant shift in Burcon’s strategy, which for most of its existence was focused on licensing its technologies to others. The new joint venture, which is called Burcon Functional Foods Corporation, will give the company direct control of its products.
The JV is a partnership with an unnamed investor group, 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”.