LAS VEGAS — Merit Functional Foods made its trade show debut at SupplySide West, held Oct. 15-19 in Las Vegas, with hopes of influencing the future of plant proteins. Canola protein could be the “next” protein, said Ryan Bracken, co-chief executive officer.

While the food industry often uses canola oil, canola protein in the past has been used as animal feed because high heat tends to denature canola protein, Mr. Bracken said. Canola protein offered by Merit, Winnipeg, Man., is not denatured because the company has a licensing agreement with Burcon NutraScience Corp., Vancouver, B.C., which is a 40% partner in Merit. Burcon has proprietary protein extraction and purification technologies that help in creating plant protein ingredients for use in foods and beverages.

Besides being a source of plant protein, canola protein also has functional properties, including emulsification, gelling, thickening, water-binding and ingredient-binding, according to Merit. The company sources non-bioengineered/non-G.M.O. canola to make the protein ingredients.

Merit plans to offer plant protein ingredients with superior purity, stability and taste. The product portfolio currently consists of three ingredients: pea protein, canola protein and MeritPro HS, which is a blend of pea protein and canola protein. Merit is building an 88,000-square-foot production facility in Winnipeg to produce its proprietary plant-based ingredients. The facility is scheduled for completion by the third quarter of 2020.

“Quite simply, our plant protein ingredients look, taste and function better than anything that’s currently available in the marketplace,” Mr. Bracken said. “We’ve sought to collaborate with C.P.G. companies to help change consumer perception of what a plant-based protein tastes like, and functions like, especially in beverages.”

Because of the blend of pea protein and canola protein, the MeritPro ingredients reach a protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) of 1.0, which signifies the protein ingredients are nutritionally complete. Possible applications for MeritPro are non-dairy milk alternatives, refrigerated juices and smoothies, and ready-to-drink protein shakes.

Possible applications for the Peazazz brand pea protein ingredients, which are over 90% protein, include R.-T.-D. protein shakes, non-dairy alternatives and ready-to-mix protein powders. Possible applications for Peazac pea protein ingredients, which are over 80% protein, are bars, meat analogues and baked foods.

Possible applications for the Puratein canola protein ingredients, which are over 90% protein, are non-dairy milk and creamer alternatives, refrigerated juices and smoothies, cereals and granola, nutrition bars, and meat analogues.

Merit may explore other protein sources like mung bean, chickpeas and lentils, Mr. Bracken said. Right now, pea protein and canola protein have the highest value at the lowest cost.

Merit Functional Foods was created earlier this year as a joint venture between former executives of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods and Burcon NutraScience Corp. Mr. Bracken previously was vice-president of innovation at Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods.