Partners with Bunge to Bring Pea and Canola Protein to Market
Vancouver-based Burcon NutraScience Corporation is pleased to announce that its joint venture company, Merit Functional Foods has received a $30 million investment from a new equity partner, Bunge Limited, a leading international agribusiness and food company.
The partnership will expedite Merit’s construction of its state-of-the-art plant-based protein production facility in Manitoba, Canada, where it will produce, under license, Burcon’s novel pea and canola protein ingredients. It will be the only commercial-scale facility capable of producing food-grade canola protein in the world. Construction is well underway, and the plant is on track to be fully operational by December 2020.
In addition to purchasing equity directly from Merit, Bunge purchased additional shares and debt from existing Merit shareholders who are Burcon’s joint venture partners. As a result of these transactions, Bunge is a 25% shareholder in Merit, and Burcon is now Merit Foods largest shareholder owning 33.3% of the plant-based protein producer.
The demand for plant-based foods and beverages including dairy and meat alternatives is rapidly increasing. Merit’s product portfolio of pea and canola protein ingredients supports the growing need for highly functional and taste-forward plant-based applications. As one of the leading processors of canola in Canada, Bunge has strong origination expertise and will supply Merit with certain critical inputs. Bunge’s experience in selling canola-based products will complement Merit’s patented processing technology.
“We’re excited to have a global partner like Bunge recognize our mission and assist us in accelerating our plans and path to launch,” Merit’s Co-CEO Ryan Bracken said. “Bunge also holds a deep knowledge of international commodity markets which will help reinforce our canola business globally.”
As part of the transactions announced today, Bunge, Burcon and Merit’s other shareholders have agreed to certain contractual rights, including a right, but not an obligation, of Burcon, in certain circumstances, to participate in a sale of all but not less than all of its shares in Merit, and that in certain circumstances, Merit will have the right to buyout from Burcon the May 2019 license and production agreement for an amount representing the discounted future royalties over the life of the license agreement.
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