The facility is on track to be fully operational in the fourth quarter of 2020
The construction of Merit Functional Foods’ 94,000-square foot production facility is well under way; Merit’s facility will produce the world’s highest purity and highest quality pea and canola protein.
Several major project milestones have been completed or are in progress: the facility’s superstructure was assembled in May and the initial placement of equipment and enclosure of the building is occurring throughout June.
When complete, it will be the first and only commercial facility with the capability to produce food-grade canola protein, a new and exciting entrant to the plant-based protein ingredient segment.
“This facility is going to be key in redefining plant-based protein,” Merit Co-CEO Ryan Bracken said. “It’s a flexible facility that will produce an unprecedented pea protein and the first canola protein available for use in foods and beverages. Both of these proteins will have functional and nutritional characteristics that will set them apart from other ingredients available on the market.”
Merit is a Canadian company that is committed to exceeding expectations for plant-based protein, with pea and canola ingredients that offer unmatched purity, exceptional taste, and excellent solubility. From farm to facility, its fully co-ordinated supply chain provides a made-in-Canada solution.
The company’s pea and canola will be sourced and grown in Western Canada and processed and manufactured in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Manitoba is the heart of Canada’s agricultural hubs. This, along with its capacity to support the project’s utilities requirements, makes the location a natural fit for the facility. During the coming 3 years, Merit will create more than 175 new jobs for the community.
“We are proud Manitobans ourselves, and we’re honoured to support our local economy,” Bracken said. “We’re appreciative of the support we’ve already received from the provincial and federal government. We are excited about commercialising a state-of-the-art plant protein manufacturing facility in Canada and enabling value-adding of Canadian grown pulses and oilseeds.”
The current design for the facility is optimised to meet initial market demand for Merit’s specialty protein ingredients, and it is being designed with future growth in mind.
“We are already anticipating future demand, which will allow us to be agile by significantly increasing our capacity when the time is right,” Bracken said. “We know that our customers will rely on us for consistency in their supply chain as they scale up their production of plant-based foods.”
Merit has secured a debt financing package from a consortium of lenders including Export Development Canada, Farm Credit Canada, Agricultural and Agri-Food Canada, and CIBC. The funding will commercialise and expand production capacity to address the growing global demand for plant proteins.
“We are pleased to be supporting Merit on their first commercial-scale project as they leverage their unique technology to bring innovative plant-based proteins to international markets,” said Carl Burlock, Executive Vice-President and Chief Business Officer at EDC. “We look forward to seeing the positive impacts that Merit has on the global food and beverage industry.”
Merit’s unprecedented protein extraction technology will help position Canada as one of the world’s leaders in plant-based protein.
"The made-in-Canada agricultural technologies and innovations from Merit Functional Foods not only give us a competitive advantage in the global marketplace, but they are also creating jobs and adding value to our farmers’ commodities,” said The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
“This is a very exciting project that demonstrates our Government’s commitment to positioning Canada as a leader in the production of plant proteins.”
The support will facilitate Merit’s ability to build a scalable and meaningful plant.
“We are extremely appreciative of the instrumental support from the government and our other partners as we move one step closer to commercialising our state-of-the-art protein manufacturing facility,” Bracken said. “We're proud to help elevate Canada as one of the world's leaders in plant-based protein and sustainable food.”