New collaboration to develop high-quality meat alternatives

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Partners will use Canadian crops to create beef and pork alternatives to rival Wagyu beef

Vancouver, BC — Today, Protein Industries Canada announced a co-investment into a project that will diversify Canada’s meat-alternative product offerings and further position Canada as a global leader in the production of plant-based food and ingredients.

Wamame Foods, Merit Functional Foods, Wismettac Asian Foods and Winecrush Technology are partnering to develop and distribute plant-based, non-soy alternatives to pork and Wagyu beef. Through the utilization of innovative plant protein ingredients and processing technologies, the beef alternatives will match the high-quality Wagyu line in both texture and taste. The partners will also help diversify the plant-based foods available across Canada while meeting the high-quality taste, health and sustainability benefits consumers expect from plant-based foods and ingredients, as the new meat alternatives will be sold under three lines of products.

“Canadian farmers grow some of the world’s highest quality crops. Thanks to the work of the Protein Industries Supercluster, we are developing new uses for them by leveraging existing expertise and connecting global partners to create premium, healthy and sustainable food products. This great initiative will further Canada’s reputation as a world leader in plant-based food innovations,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

Merit Functional Foods and Winecrush Technology will develop the ingredients for the new products using Canadian-grown crops, including non-GMO peas and canola, which will then be used in research and development activities to perfect the new beef and pork alternatives. The new products will be sold under Wamame Foods’ Waygu brand in addition to their pre-existing soy-based Waygu product, as well as a co-branded private label under Wismettac Asian Foods’ line of products.

“Consumer demand for high-quality, delicious and nutritious plant-based meat alternatives is growing, and meeting it in a sustainable manner will require new ingredient and product innovation,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said. “Wamame Foods, Merit Functional Foods, Wismettac Asian Foods and Winecrush Technology are proof that Canadian companies have the knowledge, skills and innovative mindset to develop these new ingredients and products. Their diversification of the plant-based meat alternative market is an important step toward Canada’s goal of becoming a global leader in the supply of plant-based foods and ingredients.”

The new lines of meat alternatives will be sold throughout Europe, Asia and North America, expanding Canada’s plant-based meat alternative market footprint. This will support Canada’s goal of being an innovative leader in the production of plant-based food and ingredients, while also increasing domestic processing, creating jobs and strengthening our economy.

A total of $7.6 million is being invested in the project, with Protein Industries Canada investing $3.8 million.

“Partnering with Protein Industries Canada has enabled Wamame Foods to assemble a world-leading consortium of like-minded companies and academia to deliver on our goal of creating premium plant-based beef,” Wamame President Blair Bullus said. “This project will leverage the best in Canadian and Japanese agriculture, technology and culinary tradition to build a premium plant-based alternative that rivals the world’s most revered beef, Wagyu. Wamame’s plant-based Waygu will offer a new, sustainable alternative that promises consumers flavour and that melt-in-your-mouth culinary experience that Wagyu premium beef delivers. Support from Protein Industries Canada will strengthen our key partnerships domestically and help expand Waygu globally with amazing companies like Wismettac Asian Foods.”

“As first to market with food-grade non-GMO canola protein, we are committed to providing the industry with highly functional plant proteins that improve taste and texture in plant-based food products, including meat alternatives that satisfy the specific texture and flavour preferences of regional cuisine,” said Jeff Casper, Director of Research and Applications at Merit Functional Foods. “We are looking forward to collaborating with these key players, and applying our knowledge to new food innovations that deliver flavour and nutrition in high moisture extrudes.”

“As a leading distributor of Asian products, we are thrilled to partner with Wamame Foods, Merit Functional Foods and Winecrush Technology to bring the first plant-based, Wagyu-inspired products to the market,” said Jeff Stutsman, Director of Research & Development of Wismettac Asian Foods. “We’ve seen our customers rapidly expand their plant-based menu offerings. We are excited to bring them and their guests the absolutely indulgent experience of Wagyu, with all the benefits of sustainable, plant-based meat.”

“We are pleased to partner with Protein Industries Canada, Wamame Foods, Wismettac Asian Foods and Merit Functional Foods as world-class partners to create the next generation of food,” Winecrush Technology Chief Executive Officer Kirk Moir said. “Our mission is to valorize agricultural side streams with the power of fermentation. Working with the University of British Columbia, we are advancing the performance of our patent-pending upcycling process focused on the power of polyphenols from wine-making derivatives to produce transformational food ingredients that enable plant-based food producers to close critical gaps in taste, texture, price and clean label nutrition.”

The project is Protein Industries Canada’s 22nd under its technology program, and its 26th overall. Together with industry, Protein Industries Canada has committed more than $425 million to Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredients ecosystem.

Media may contact:

Miranda Burski
Protein Industries Canada
Regina, SK

306-581-1340

miranda@proteinsupercluster.ca

About Wamame Foods

A subsidiary of Vancouver-based Top Tier Foods (founded in 2013), Wamame Foods is a food technology company dedicated to the development of premium plant-based beef with its brand Waygu. Drawing inspiration from Japanese Wagyu, widely considered to be the best beef in the world, Wamame’s plant-based alternative Waygu is a collaborative effort between a consortium of leading research and development facilities, ingredient suppliers, manufactures, investors and distributors that represent the best of the Canadian and Japanese food industries.

Launched in 2020, Waygu has been praised by chefs and global media for its texture, flavour and similarities to wagyu beef.

About Merit Functional Foods

Established in 2019, Merit Functional Foods is a Canadian company committed to exceeding expectations for plant-based protein, providing the market with the highest quality protein ingredients that offer unmatched purity, exceptional taste and excellent solubility. Merit has built a 94,000-square foot state-of-the-art production facility in Winnipeg, Man., where it produces a portfolio of non-GMO pea and canola protein ingredients with high functionality and nutritional profiles for use in plant-based foods and beverages. For more information, visit meritfoods.com.

About Wismettac Asian Foods

Wismettac is a global company with over 100 years of history and a proud Japanese heritage (Wismettac group holding company is listed in the Tokyo Stock Exchange). They are committed to transforming the food industry into an accelerator of the world's well-being. In North America, they do so by sharing the rich tastes and wholesome foods of the Asian cuisine with foodservice operators and retail stores.

With over 22 locations and $1B in sales across the United States and Canada to foodservice operators and grocery stores, they carry an unparalleled portfolio of pan-Asian products that exceeds the needs of the most demanding customers.

About Winecrush Technology

Winecrush Technology Inc. is an innovative agritech company based in British Columbia, Canada, focused on the transformation of wine derivatives and other agricultural side streams into high-performance food ingredients using patent-pending targeted fermentation. By pioneering a new, biomechanical process, they are harnessing the power of polyphenols for food innovation while improving the sustainability of the global food chain. Through natural, proprietary upcycling, they transform food to taste better, be healthier and always be cost effective.