Merit Functional Foods inaugurates world’s first plant for food-grade canola proteins
11 Nov 2021 --- Merit Functional Foods has kicked off operations at the world’s first commercial facility with the capability to produce food-grade canola protein, a new entrant to the plant-based space.
The Canada-based company has inaugurated its new 94,000 sq ft plant-protein facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba The site is fully scaled to supply food and beverage customers with 90% purity pea and canola proteins for meat and dairy alternatives.
“Plant-based foods is a US$7 billion market, which is directly attributed to the rapidly growing plant-based sector,” a company spokesperson tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“Canola protein is emerging as a strong entrant in the market, as it presents opportunities for food and beverage manufacturers that have had challenges with certain functionalities and nutritional profiles of other plant protein ingredients.”
A challenger to conventional soy
As an alternative to traditional plant proteins, such as soy, canola has been attracting significant attention across industry. Earlier this year, the entire genomic sequence of 12 canola varieties was mapped by a global consortium of US, Canadian, Israeli and European research bodies using AI software.
One example of canola protein’s applicability is the ingredient’s functionality as an egg replacement in vegan baking.
“With high whipping and foaming capacity, our Puratein HS product provides a plant-based solution to replace the aeration and nucleation functionality of egg white, which has traditionally been difficult to replicate,” details the spokesperson.
“In vegan cookies and cake applications, Puratein C offers dual functionalities of both whipping and gelling to provide a solution that can support the replacement of whole eggs,” they add.
“As for nutrition, our line-up of canola protein has unmatched purity at over 90% protein, as well as complementary amino acid profiles with other plant-based proteins such as pea, lending itself to achieve a PDCAAS of 1.0.”
Other plant proteins are also complementary to pea, but they do not offer the same taste, texture and purity that canola does when combined with pea, notes the spokesperson.
Formulating for functionality
Merit Functional Foods is the first to offer the market customized pea and canola protein solutions through its MeritPro Solutions platform, which offers higher levels of plant protein in formulations, including a PDCAAS of 1.0.
Through this platform, the company’s R&D team evaluates customers’ unique nutritional goals, functional requirements, processing considerations and sensory outcomes to determine the most effective pea and canola protein ratios.
The supplier’s proprietary membrane filtration process removes impurities and produces “taste-forward” neutral-flavored product without the vegetal notes that have traditionally been associated with plant proteins.
“Merit is utilizing technology that has been in development for 20 years, which enables the supplier to remove unwanted compounds that can contribute to undesirable off-flavors and coloration,” comments the spokesperson.
Aligning with consumer’s diets and lifestyles
Merit Functional Foods recently achieved an AA score with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Food Safety Certification. BRC is a global quality and food safety program, and its food safety audits are considered a benchmark for global food and beverage companies.
In addition, the company’s ingredients are Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten-free certified, kosher and halal, helping brands deliver label claims that align with consumers’ allergen- and lifestyle-related needs.
“Food quality and safety were top of mind as our facility came to life,” says Merit Functional Foods’ CEO Ryan Bracken. “As brands and consumers become more and more interested in the ingredients that go into their products, we’re committed to ensuring that the plant proteins we produce exceed their expectations.”
The company touts its ingredients exclusively grown and produced in Canada, which shortens supply chains for North American businesses. “With growing awareness of the origin of ingredients, these reduced ‘food miles’ appeal to brands and consumers alike,” addss Bracken.
Appealing to eco-conscious businesses and consumers, the localized sourcing of food ingredients is the hallmark of Innova Market Insights’ seventh Top Trend for 2022, “Back to the Roots.”
By Benjamin Ferrer
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