Yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada will invest close to $100 million into plant-based foods. The money will help finance the new Merit Functional Foods plant in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The Canadian company will produce a range of pea, canola, and blended proteins for different end uses including: meat and egg alternatives, baked goods, nutrition bars, and fortified beverages.
The move comes at a time when consumer demand for plant-based proteins is growing in both Canada and markets around the world.
“The made-in-Canada agricultural technologies and innovations from Merit Functional Foods not only gives us a competitive advantage in the global marketplace, they are creating jobs and adding value to our farmers` commodities,” said Honorable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food in a statement. “This is a very exciting project that demonstrates our Government’s commitment to positioning Canada as a leader in production of plant proteins.”
The federal financing for Merit Functional Foods includes:
$10 million in a repayable contribution from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriInnovate Program which aims to accelerate the commercialization, adoption, and or demonstration of innovative products, technologies, processes or services that increase sector competitiveness and sustainability.
$25 million in debt financing from Farm Credit Canada.
$55 million in debt financing from Export Development Canada.
$9.2 million from the Protein Industries Canada supercluster to support a project for the commercialization of new highly soluble, highly functional pea and canola protein isolates.
Merit Functional Foods will be the first facility in the world with the capability of producing food-grade canola protein ready and safe for human consumption.
The new plant, which will source 100% of its inputs from Canadian producers, creates 80 new jobs and is scheduled to be fully operational in December of this year.
“We are extremely appreciative of the instrumental support from the government and our other partners as we move one step closer to commercializing our state-of-the-art protein manufacturing facility,” stated Ryan Bracken, Co-CEO of Merit Functional Foods. “We are proud to help elevate Canada as one of the world’s leaders in plant-based protein and sustainable food.”
According to a report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, consumption of healthy and sustainable diets including plant-based proteins, presents major opportunities for reducing GHG emissions from food systems and improving health outcomes.