Protein Industries Canada announced a co-investment into a project that will utilize some of Canada’s most widely grown crops in the development of new plant-based foods and ingredients.

Merit Functional Foods, TWC Nutrition, Daiya Foods and Grand River Foods are partnering to utilize Merit Functional Foods’ pea, canola and blended pea-canola protein ingredients in new plant-based products. This could include alternative meat products, alternative dairy products and other beverages, developed by TWC Nutrition, Daiya Foods and Grand River Foods.

“Canada has become a global supplier of ingredients and plant-based foods. This project, led by Merit Foods, will help producers reach new markets while meeting growing consumer demand for alternative protein products. This will help us find high-quality Canadian ingredients and strengthen the Canadian economy,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

“Adding value to our crops by turning them into innovative food products is a boon for our communities and the Canadian economy as a whole. This partnership will not only benefit Canadian pea and canola farmers by expanding their domestic market, but it will also benefit consumers of plant-based foods by giving them more options for top-quality Canadian-made products,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food.

Protein Industries Canada is providing half of the investment into the project, with Merit Functional Foods, TWC Nutrition, Daiya Foods and Grand River Foods together investing the remaining half for a total project investment of $7.9 million. The project’s scaling up of Merit Functional Foods’ ingredient development represents a significant step forward not only in Canada’s intellectual property potential, but also the country’s ability to utilize its diverse crop selection in new ways that prioritize consumer health and taste.

“Canada is known for our diverse selection of high quality crops, but we have the potential to be known for what we can do with them,” Protein industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said. “Merit Functional Foods has proven that our peas and canola make for ideal plant protein ingredients, and now TWC Nutrition, Daiya Foods and Grand River Foods will help show consumers around the world that these ingredients can be the base for healthy, delicious plant-based foods and beverages.”

Utilizing two widely grown Canadian crops in the project also presents significant opportunity for Canadian farmers, providing them with new options for marketing their commodities. Sourcing these ingredients domestically represents a new opportunity for Daiya Foods, TWC Nutrition and Grand River Foods, who will also be able to use them to expand both their Canadian and international markets.

"We're thrilled to be a part of this exciting group of industry leaders working together to help solidify Canada as the global leader in plant-based innovation," Merit Co-CEO Ryan Bracken said. "Supported by Protein Industries Canada's generous investment, we will be accelerating the next generation of plant-based foods with our game-changing protein ingredients. Together with this team, we'll make the taste, texture and fortification limitations of plant-based products a thing of the past. Whether used in a meat or dairy alternative, ready-to-drink beverage, supplement powder or beyond, this collaboration and our novel and value-added proteins will lift the Canadian Agri-Food industry as whole."

“The collaboration involved in this partnership will allow us to bring new plant-based innovations to our Kaizen Naturals brand of nutritional supplements that surpass the evolving consumer expectations for health products in Canada and around the world,” TWC Nutrition Vice President of Marketing and E-Commerce Jason Travis said.

“Daiya is a proud pioneer of plant-based food breakthroughs. Our team at the recently opened Daiya Global Food Innovation Centre is excited to join Protein Industries Canada to help realize the innovation potential of pulse-based protein ingredients,” Daiya Foods CEO Michael Watt said. “For more than 13 years, Daiya has led the industry creating plant-based foods that surprise and delight our consumers. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with Protein Industries Canada exploring the use of Canadian-grown resources to continue the momentum of the plant-based movement.”

“We are excited to be a part of sourcing Canadian-grown crops to feed Canadian consumers,” Grand River Foods Vice President Jeff Lanteigne said.

This is Protein Industries Canada’s 20th project announcement, and their 19th specific to their Technology program. Together with industry, they have invested more than $367 million to the Canadian plant-based food, feed and ingredients sector. They’re currently seeking Expressions of Interest for short-cycle projects under their Technology program stream, with a focus on commercialization and near-term market potential. They are also accepting ongoing Expressions of Interest as part of their Capacity Building programs.

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