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Winnipeg plant gets $100M in federal financing to pull protein from peas, canola

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Feds contribute nearly $100 million towards plant-based food facility in Winnipeg' Coronavirus: Feds contribute nearly $100 million towards plant-based food facility in Winnipeg
Speaking outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced financing of close to $100 million for the new Merit Functional Foods plant in Winnipeg.

The federal government is helping finance an innovative, new agricultural production plant in Winnipeg that turns peas and canola into protein powders for the food industry.

Merit Functional Foods Corp. plans to have its new 94,000-square-foot production plant at Winnipeg’s Centreport running by the end of the year.

There it will extract protein from peas and canola seeds for use in everything from pre-packaged protein shakes and meat-alternative foods to non-dairy creamers and energy bars.

READ MORE: New Manitoba pea, canola protein plant hopes to sell to companies like Beyond Meat

The company intends to use only Canadian-grown peas and canola and claims to be the first in the world that will produce canola protein for the food industry.

Ottawa is contributing a total of $100 million, including a previously announced $9.2 million from the Protein Industries Supercluster.

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Click to play video 'Plant protein industry continues to be innovative to meet demands' Plant protein industry continues to be innovative to meet demands
Plant protein industry continues to be innovative to meet demands

Loans of $25 million and $55 million are coming from Farm Credit Canada and Export Development Canada, while the AgriInnovate Program is contributing a $10-million repayable grant.

“This facility will be a world leader in plant-based proteins and will create good jobs in a fast-growing field,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday. “And by using 100 per cent Canadian inputs, it will also support farmers who produce the canola and yellow peas used in Merit’s products.”

READ MORE: Beyond Meat partners with Portage la Prairie bound pea-processing plant

Demand for plant-based proteins is soaring as people around the world seek to find meat alternatives in a bid to improve their health and that of the planet.

Merit is seeking to make protein additives from peas and canola that taste better and have improved textures.

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Merit signed a development agreement with Nestle in January to use Merit’s pea and canola protein products in Nestle’s food offerings.

The plant is expected to create 80 new jobs.

Click to play video 'Incorporating plant protein into your diet' Incorporating plant protein into your diet
Incorporating plant protein into your diet