A Canadian plant protein company has started work in Winnipeg on a small-scale processing plant to extract a new ingredient from peas for the food and beverage markets.
Burcon NutraScience announced Tuesday it has ordered equipment and started building a "semi-works" facility to make its pea protein ingredient, Peazazz, and expects to have "tonnage amounts" of product available for customers this summer.
Burcon announced its development of Peazazz in November 2011 and said Tuesday it plans to launch and demonstrate the product at the Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) Food Expo in Chicago in July.
The pea protein, which Burcon bills as 100 per cent soluble and both heat-stable and transparent in low-pH (below 4.0) solutions, is expected to be available in July for "customers looking to purchase commercial-scale market development quantities."
"Interest from potential customers for a clean-tasting, transparent pea protein has been very encouraging," company president Johann Tergesen said in a release. "Creating a dedicated plant to produce our Peazazz product will allow us to grow customer demand for this innovative protein."
Burcon, based in Vancouver with lab facilities in Winnipeg, said the economics of the plant protein industry "continue to improve" due to "steady increases in the pricing of mainstream animal protein ingredients, dairy protein and egg protein."
The company announced in August 2012 it had signed a non-binding letter of intent with a commercial partner for Peazazz's worldwide commercial production, marketing and sales.
However, the company said Tuesday it's "formally requested to terminate that letter of intent" and thus free itself to talk to other possible partners.
Publicly-traded Burcon in November completed a share offering from which it grossed $5.75 million, earmarked for "continued commercialization" of Peazazz and of its soy protein product, Clarisoy.
Burcon said Tuesday it's now looking at "multiple avenues" to commercialize Peazazz, such as licensing the technology to another producer, setting up a joint venture or, possibly, building a full-scale processing plant on its own.
The new Winnipeg facility, once up and running, "will allow us to explore many more partnering opportunities while preserving the option of commercializing this exciting protein on our own," Burcon lead director Brad Allen said in Tuesday's release.
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