Pitura Seeds part of major deal

PIC in the News
Merit Functional Foods protein processing facility, shown here in an architect’s rendering, is now being built in Brookport Business Park in the RM of Rosser.

Pitura Seeds of Domain will soon begin supplying western Canadian growers with peas and canola seed to grow crops that could eventually end up in meat and dairy alternative products made by Nestlé, the world’s largest food manufacturer.

Pitura, the largest family-owned pedigreed seed processing operation in western Canada, is part of a $19-million project to develop high-quality pea and canola proteins. Protein Industries Canada is investing half of the money with the other half coming from a consortium including Pitura Seeds, and Winnipeg-based companies Merit Functional Foods and The Winning Combination, a natural health product manufacturer. The three businesses will work together to develop non-genetically modified canola and pea proteins for use in plant protein-based food and beverage products.

"Pitura Seeds is proud to partner in this new project, which will bring significant value to Western Canadian farmers," said Tom Greaves, Pitura Seeds president and general manager.

"Our role is on the supply chain and research and development," said Greaves.

The company will contract to supply farmers in western Canada with specific pea and canola seed varieties to grow crops containing the characteristics needed for optimal protein traits. They will also develop cleaning standards to result in optimal protein and quality levels.

"This is really exciting for western Canadian farmers," Greaves said, adding that the varietal evaluation will begin this year.

Protein Industries Canada is an industry-led, not-for-profit organization created to promote Canada as a source of high-quality plant protein and plant-based co-products.

The peas and canola will be processed at Merit’s protein processing facility now under construction on 8.5 acres in Brookport Business Park, north of Farmer Road within the RM of Rosser. The 94,000 square-foot plant is expected to open later this year. Within three to five years, it is anticipated the plant will require up to 100,000 tonnes of peas and canola seed annually.

Merit’s technology partner, Winnipeg-based Burcon NutraScience, has developed the proprietary and patented extraction and purification technology to be used in the plant.

"We are very proud and excited that Merit Functional Foods has chosen the RM of Rosser to locate their plant-based protein state of the art processing facility. We have had the opportunity to meet and dialogue with their senior team as construction is taking place, and their professionalism and dedication to exceeding expectations for plant based proteins is very obvious. We look forward to working with Merit and wish them success in this new venture," Rosser CAO Larry Wandowich said in an email message.

Merit is also collaborating with the Manitoba Food Development Centre in Portage la Prairie to perform functionality and applications work on Merit’s various byproducts to understand how they can be used.

Published by Winnipeg Free Press

Written by Andrea Geary