On Monday, Protein Industries Canada announced a co-investment into a project that will develop and distribute plant-based, non-soy alternatives to pork and Wagyu beef.

Partners in the project include Wamame Foods, Merit Functional Foods, Wismettac Asian Foods and Winecrush Technology.

Through the utilization of innovative plant protein ingredients and processing technologies, the beef alternatives will match the high-quality Wagyu line in both texture and taste. The new meat alternatives will be sold under three lines of products.

“Canadian farmers grow some of the world’s highest quality crops. Thanks to the work of the Protein Industries Supercluster, we are developing new uses for them by leveraging existing expertise and connecting global partners to create premium, healthy and sustainable food products. This great initiative will further Canada’s reputation as a world leader in plant-based food innovations,” said François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

Merit Functional Foods and Winecrush Technology will develop the ingredients for the new products using Canadian-grown crops, including non-GMO peas and canola, which will then be used in research and development activities to perfect the new beef and pork alternatives. The new products will be sold under Wamame Foods’ Waygu brand in addition to their pre-existing soy-based Waygu product, as well as a co-branded private label under Wismettac Asian Foods’ line of products.

“Consumer demand for high-quality, delicious and nutritious plant-based meat alternatives is growing, and meeting it in a sustainable manner will require new ingredient and product innovation,” said Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel. “Wamame Foods, Merit Functional Foods, Wismettac Asian Foods and Winecrush Technology are proof that Canadian companies have the knowledge, skills and innovative mindset to develop these new ingredients and products. Their diversification of the plant-based meat alternative market is an important step toward Canada’s goal of becoming a global leader in the supply of plant-based foods and ingredients.”

The new lines of meat alternatives will be sold throughout Europe, Asia and North America.

“As first to market with food-grade non-GMO canola protein, we are committed to providing the industry with highly functional plant proteins that improve taste and texture in plant-based food products, including meat alternatives that satisfy the specific texture and flavour preferences of regional cuisine,” said Jeff Casper, Director of Research and Applications at Merit Functional Foods. “We are looking forward to collaborating with these key players, and applying our knowledge to new food innovations that deliver flavour and nutrition in high moisture extrudes.”

A total of $7.6 million is being invested in the project, with Protein Industries Canada investing $3.8 million.

The project is Protein Industries Canada’s 22nd under its technology program, and its 26th overall. Together with industry, Protein Industries Canada has committed more than $425 million to Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredients ecosystem.