Merit Functional Foods secures additional $10m in debt-free financing to ‘redefine plant-based protein’ market

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

Merit Functional Foods secures additional $10m in debt-free financing to ‘redefine plant-based protein’ market

Related tags: plant-based protein, Merit Functional Foods, Burcon, Canada

Canada-based Merit Functional Foods - a joint venture between plant protein tech specialist Burcon NutraScience and three veteran food industry executives – has secured additional debt financing of $10m in the form of a 10-year interest free loan from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Merit has now secured a combined $95m debt financing package from a consortium of lenders including Export Development Canada, Farm Credit Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

The funding will be used to commercialize and expand production capacity of plant proteins at Merit’s 94,000-square-foot production facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which is currently under construction and scheduled for completion in Q4 2020.

“This facility is going to be key in redefining plant-based protein,”​ said Merit co-CEO Ryan Bracken.

“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.”

Launched in 2019, Merit’s portfolio of pea and canola protein ingredients​are produced using its proprietary protein extraction technology, which the company claims “exceed industry standards for purity, solubility, taste, and other key attributes” ​as it can achieve upwards of 90% purity in both its pea and canola protein ingredients.

The current design for the facility is optimized to meet initial market demand for Merit’s specialty protein ingredients, according to the company, but 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,”​ said Bracken.

“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.”

Earlier this year, Merit entered a joint development agreement with Nestlé, to help the global food and beverage giant develop plant-based meat and dairy alternatives.

Merit’s product portfolio currently consists of three product family offerings: pea protein, non-GMO canola protein, and a line of plant protein blends called MeritPro. Its entire portfolio is gluten-free, soy-free, non-dairy, non-GMO, and vegan.

Establishing Canada as a leader in plant protein production

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, announced: “Our government is contributing almost $100m for the new Merit Functional Foods location in Winnipeg. This facility will be a world leader in plant-based proteins and create good jobs in a fast-growing field.”

Over the next three years, Merit will create more than 175 new jobs for the community.

"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,”​ added 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.”

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