Plant-protein processor’s new processing plant gets grant

Feds, province put up cash for new equipment

The federal and Manitoba governments have added a seven-figure contribution to their support for a new facility to process plant proteins from canola and peas.

Merit Functional Foods will put the additional money toward “new equipment purchases that will support the transformation of raw inputs into value-added goods.”

The unspecified new technology is expected to further allow the Merit plant to be competitive on the global market, “creating up to 85 local jobs as part of its Phase One project, growing to more than 200 jobs in future phases,” the province said in a release Monday.

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The new plant is expected to source up to 17,000 tonnes of canola from Manitoba producers in its first year of operation and 10,000 tonnes of peas at an estimated value of $14 million, the province said.

Merit, a joint venture between Vancouver-based Burcon NutraScience and former executives of Hemp Oil Canada, expects those amounts to reach 35,000 tonnes of canola and 20,000 of peas, valued at $28 million in three years.

“It’s been just a bit over a year since we commissioned our project and we’re nearing an on-track completion for the end of the year,” Merit’s co-CEO Ryan Bracken said Monday in the province’s release.

The province on Monday also announced it will put up $1 million for “cost-shared training activities” at Merit — and provide a rebate worth up to $4.5 million over up to 20 years via the new Manitoba Works Capital Incentive (MWCI) program.

The MWCI, launched in May, rebates the incremental education property taxes generated by a project for a period of up to 20 years. Approved projects get a tax rebate based on the difference between pre-development property tax revenue and the increased amount generated by the completed project.

Cost-shared activities will support training for more than 100 new positions and five existing positions, the province said.

Merit in recent months has also picked up a debt financing package of up to $85 million from “a syndicate of lenders” including Export Development Canada, Farm Credit Canada and CIBC — and another $9.5 million investment from federally backed research “supercluster” Protein Industries Canada. –– Glacier FarmMedia Network

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Dave Bedard

Editor, Daily News, Glacier FarmMedia Network. A Saskatchewan transplant in Winnipeg.

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