Partnership to expand use of Western Canadian plant proteins

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan, Nov. 18, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today, Protein Industries Canada announced a project and outside partnership focused on developing new plant-based protein products and ingredients that will be sold to markets in Western Canada and Asia.
Mera Food Group, Mera Developments and Benson Farms are partnering to use Western Canadian commodities to develop the products. During the first phase of their project, they’ll use these commodities — including oats, lentils, hemp, fava beans and chickpeas — to develop beverages and other products for consumers in Western Canada before targeting Asian markets in the second phase.“Collaboration is the key to driving Canadian Innovation,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “This project is yet another example of how Protein Industries Canada is helping to build relationships along the value chain from farm to fork that will enable Canadian processors and retailers to expand into new markets and help feed our future.”“With this collaboration, which aims to develop innovative new products from various commodities to be sold locally and in Asia, we’re demonstrating Canada’s agrifood ingenuity to the world. Canada remains at the forefront of this innovation, all the while strengthening our agriculture and agri-food sectors, growing our exports, and diversifying our markets,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.Throughout the project, Benson Farms will help determine the best varieties of the commodities to use via trial plots. Mera Food Group and Mera Developments, meanwhile, will focus on developing the plant-based protein products and ingredients, including an outside partnership with Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL). Together, Mera Food Group, Mera Developments and Benson Farms are investing $3.6 million into the project, with Protein Industries Canada investing a further $3.6 million.“The collaborative nature of Mera Food Group, Mera Developments and Benson Farms perfectly represents the potential of our sector,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said. “Together, they’re not only helping each other achieve production and processing goals, but they’re also helping other agrifood and retail companies achieve their own growth goals. And ultimately, they’re helping Canada reach new markets and expand the economy, while bringing plant-proteins to the plates of consumers.”While strengthening the plant-protein sector through the development of new products, the partners will also be expanding it by building additional capacity for other agrifood businesses. They will be bringing new co-packaging machinery into the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre, and will make it available for use by other companies.“Mera Development is excited to provide the Consortium with its global expertise in leveraging data and analytics to enhance operational and financial performance,” Mera Development Corp. CEO Heather Quale, P.Eng, P.Geo said. “Through this project, we have the opportunity to utilize our expertise to meet the needs of our customers.”“Benson Farms is pleased to participate in this project with Mera and Protein Industries Canada, and is enthusiastic about finding the best varieties of hemp, oats and pulses for the beverage market,” Benson Farms Director Tom Benson, P.Ag said. “As we work with Mera to ensure these varieties meet the high-quality needs of their ingredients, consumers be assured that they’ll soon see delicious new products in their grocery stores.”To help their products reach Western Canadian consumers, Mera Food Group has signed a partnership alongside the Protein Industries Canada project to work with FCL to develop Co-op Gold Pure Oat Beverage. This collaboration supports communities, adds value to locally grown commodities and represents a complete farm-to-table initiative – from field to store shelf – involving Western Canadian businesses.“Mera Food is excited to continue our research and development and commercialization of hydrodynamic cavitation technology for processing vegetable protein,” Mera Food Group President Wayne Goranson, P.Eng said. “Working in the Food Centre with our partners at Protein Industries Canada and Federated Co-operatives Limited, we look forward to the development of several new value-added food products from commodities produced and now processed in the prairies.”“Co-op is unique in its ability to be involved in and connect multiple stages of the food-production cycle, from supporting our farm customers growing their crops to putting a finished product on store shelves,” said Ron Healey, FCL’s Vice-President of Ag and Consumer Business. “This partnership with Mera Food Group not only provides Co-op customers with an innovative new plant-based protein product, it also supports our objective to build our communities and the Western Canadian economy.”This $7.2 million project is Protein Industries Canada’s 13th project announcement. Together with industry, they’ve committed $272 million into the plant-protein sector through active technology projects. They are currently accepting their third round of Technology and Capacity Building Expressions of Interest.For more information:Miranda Burski
Protein Industries Canada
Regina, SK
306-581-1340
[email protected]
About Mera Food GroupMera Food is part of the group of Mera Group of Companies based in Regina, Sask. Mera Food is a team of engineers, scientists and economists dedicated to the production and processing of vegetable protein for human consumption. The company has focused on developing processing technologies over the last 10 years, specifically on implementation of hydrodynamic cavitation. The company has focused on work with its partners in Latin America and Asia for development of commercial products and ingredients. The addition of the Saskatoon facility continues the development of work originated in Saskatchewan for commercialization in North America.About Mera DevelopmentsMera Development was founded in 1987 as an upstream oil and gas consulting services company that has since transitioned into a niche optimization company leveraging operational data as a competitive advantage. The company’s team of engineers, analysts and IT professionals has established a reputation for delivering high quality services, often considered a “trusted advisor”. Mera has established global customer base primarily in the United States and Canada, but also in Asia, Europe and Africa. Mera has expanded from the oil and gas industry into refining, mining, pipelines, power generation, water management, agriculture and food processing. Our solutions are focused on the integration of operational data to improve performance, moving from a reactive approach to a proactive, predictive operations.Mera Development looks forward to providing to the Consortium with its data management and analytical experience, enabling members of the Consortium to leverage their data as an asset to optimize operations and support traceability of newly developed products.About Benson FarmsBenson Farms is located at Raymore, Saskatchewan. It has been family owned and operated for more than 100 years, and over the last 20 years has worked with unique strains of hemp, soy and pulses. Benson Farms has been a provider of pedigreed seedstock across Western Canada and into the United States.We look forward to this continued development and providing feedstock to the Consortium’s research and production activities.About Federated Co-operatives LimitedFederated Co-operatives Limited (FCL), based in Saskatoon, is the largest non-financial co-operative in Canada. FCL is a unique multi-billion-dollar wholesaling, manufacturing, marketing and administrative co-operative owned by more than 160 autonomous local co-operatives across Western Canada. Together FCL and those local retail co-operatives form the Co-operative Retailing System (CRS). The CRS serves our members and communities with products and services that help build, feed and fuel individuals and communities from Vancouver Island to northwestern Ontario. Our total workforce of 25,000 employees serve 1.9 million active individual members and many more non-member customers at 1,500 locations in more than 580 communities. We are a different kind of business – we are locally invested, community-minded and offer lifetime membership benefits including patronage refunds, quality products, quality service and fair prices. More information is available at www.fcl.crs.

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