Burcon eyes buy of Canada’s Merit plant from receiver

Liz Wells March 6, 2023

Canadian canola and pea processor Merit Functional Foods is in receivership. The facility pictured here is in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Photo: Merit

CANADIAN plant-protein processor Merit Functional Foods has gone into receivership, with plans announced last week by stakeholder Burcon NutraScience Corporation to buy the business.

Merit was established in 2019 by Burcon and others, and a June 2020 statement on the Merit website said its facility in Winnipeg would produce “the world’s highest purity and highest quality pea and canola protein”.

Bunge Corporation was reported by Grain Central and others as being an investor in Merit, which also received funding from the Canadian and Manitoba governments.

A joint statement issued in August 2020, the governments said Merit was expected to buy up to 17,000 tonnes of canola from Manitoba producers in its first year of operation, and 10,000t of peas, with expectation for that to grow in three years to 35,000t of canola and 20,000t of peas.

“In June 2020, the Government of Canada announced additional federal financing support of nearly $100 million for the new Merit Functional Foods plant,” the statement said.

Merit’s Winnipeg plant was officially opened in February 2021.

Its products have primarily gone into dairy and meat alternatives, and in his LinkedIn post late last week, Merit co-CEO Ryan Bracken said inflationary and COVID-related pressures proved too much for Merit in its fledgeling years.

“Sadly, while our proteins have been formulated into countless products globally, we couldn’t quite get to the level of cashflow needed to operate the business profitably, quick enough,” Mr Bracken’s post stated.

On Wednesday, PricewaterhouseCoopers was appointed receiver of Merit Functional Foods.

On its website, Burcon describes itself as a global technology leader in the development of plant-based proteins for foods and beverages.

On Friday, Burcon announced its intention to submit a proposal to acquire Merit in receivership.

“This was an anticipated step in the process of addressing Merit’s financial situation and does not alter Burcon’s plan to acquire Merit’s business,” Burcon said on its website.

“Burcon remains actively engaged in discussions with the appointed receiver, PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc, LIT.”


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