Nestlé announces plant protein plans in Winnipeg

By Knackles

Swiss multinational Nestlé has announced its intention to partner with Canadian companies Burcon and Merit as suppliers of plant-based protein.

Burcon NutraScience and Merit Functional Foods - the latter established in 2019 as a joint venture by Burcon and three industry executives - are global leaders in the development of plant-based proteins, with Burcon holding a portfolio of patents for proteins derived from peas, soy, hemp, sunflower seeds and more. 

Housing operations in Winnipeg, Nestlé is awaiting the construction of Merit’s 94,000sq ft production facility, which will be used to make proteins with various applications in food and drinks. 

The food system is changing

Commenting on Nestlé’s website, Duncan Pollard, Head of Stakeholder Engagement in Sustainability, elaborated on why the company has started to focus on plant-based proteins.

 “The food system is changing. It always has, but now it needs to change to reduce waste and optimise the use of plant proteins. We need to achieve a balance – animal, plant and novel proteins.”

“At Nestlé, we are adding more plant-based products to our portfolio in response to increased demand. It’s part of our efforts to offer tastier and healthier choices for consumers,” he said.

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It is in trying to achieve this goal that the company has decided to pool expertise with the Canadian firms. It is hoped that combining Burcon’s extraction and purification technology with Merit’s cutting edge production capabilities and Nestlé’s resources will form a strong union. 

"Developing nutritious and great-tasting plant-based meat and dairy alternatives requires access to tasty, nutritious and sustainable raw materials as well as proprietary manufacturing technology," said Stefan Palzer, CTO at Nestlé. 

"The partnership with Burcon and Merit will give us access to unique expertise and a new range of high-quality ingredients for plant-based food and beverages."

Manitoba: the perfect location

The plant itself is expected to provide employment for 85 people upon opening, with the potential for an expansion to 240 employees soon afterwards.

Reflecting on the ideal placement of Merit’s plant in an article with CBC, Johann Tergesen, CEO of Burcon, said, “We'll use a huge amount of electricity and Manitoba has some of the lowest hydro electricity rates in the world, an excellent and skilled workforce and access to the peas and canola right there."

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