To date, Vancouver’s Burcon Nutrascience has not produced revenue, yet the company commands a market cap of nearly $300 million. The reason? Burcon has already become a world leader in a space that seems to have few limits to its size. Burcon owns 127 patents around the extraction and purification of protein from plants. Many believe that as the world population grows traditional sources of protein, such as those derived from animals, will become expensive and unsustainable. The World Bank estimates that global grain production will have to climb by 50 percent and meat production by 85 percent to meet the projected global demand in the next 20 years
In August Burcon received a no-objection letter from the FDA approval for its Puratein and Supertein canola protein isolates for use in food and beverage applications. These products are expected to compete with soy, dairy and egg proteins in the multi-billion dollar global protein ingredient market. Burcon has already partnered with Archer Daniels Midland, the U.S.-based agriculture giant, to commercialize canola proteins and is now looking to expand that partnership to include its new CLARISOY® product. Cantech Letter recently talked to Johann Tergesen, President & COO of Burcon NutraScience about what 2011 holds for the company.
Johann, in shortwhat is CLARISOY® and why is it unique?
CLARISOY® is a soy protein isolate which is 100% soluble, transparent in acidic solutions and – most importantly – without the characteristic “beany” taste of traditional soy. Use of CLARISOY® allows for the production of clear protein fortified beverages such as juices, soft drinks and sport drinks in the low pH range. CLARISOY® is also heat stable in beverages, allowing thermal processing, including hot fill with no loss in clarity or change in viscosity. In the past, beverage formulators looking to incorporate soy protein into their products were limited by the cloudiness and poor taste introduced by the protein ingredients. CLARISOY® is a “next generation” soy protein isolate which offers all the benefits of soy protein incorporation but with minimal impact on the properties of the beverage to which it is added.
On November 15th, 2010 Burcon NutraScience announced a Letter of Intent to enter into a License Agreement with Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) for the commercialization of CLARISOY® – why did Burcon select Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) as a potential exclusive partner?
Recognizing the significant market potential of CLARISOY®, we have pursued a strategic alliance that is the most beneficial to Burcon and offers the greatest potential to enhance shareholder value.
ADM possesses the expertise, know-how, resources, the capacity, marketing and sales force to produce CLARISOY® soy protein isolate at a commercial scale and sell on a world-wide basis. With over 240 production plants around the world, ADM is the ideal partner to bring Burcon’s soy product to market not only in the least amount of time but also at a significant commercial capacity, and thereby gaining the first-mover advantage in a market that is primed for health and wellness products. We partnered with ADM for our canola technology over seven years ago and value our relationship with ADM. For us to extend and build upon that relationship through the licensing of our CLARISOY® technology provides significant value and experience to Burcon having already worked closely with ADM.
How does the exclusivity with ADM help Burcon bring CLARISOY® to Market?
Burcon has been in discussions with potential suitors for a strategic alliance over the past several quarters. While all potential suitors have the expertise and capacity to bring CLARISOY® to the global market, we believe that the exclusivity with ADM provides the greatest potential for global market penetration.
ADM is one of the largest food ingredient companies in the world with processing plants in major geographical regions. The exclusive license of CLARISOY® to ADM on a world-wide basis provides Burcon with the quickest and most strategically sound route to market. ADM has facilities that can easily incorporate Burcon’s CLARISOY® technology and therefore reduce the time-to-market. It’s an excellent relationship, we have the technology and ADM has the production, marketing and sales capacity.
Even with an industry leading partner like ADM in place, when bringing a new product to market there are many unknowns – what assumptions are being made when estimating the market potential for CLARISOY®?
Both ADM and Burcon are very optimistic about CLARISOY® soy protein isolate. Because soy is widely accepted and has been shown to have many health benefits (in addition to heart health claim approved by the U.S. FDA) we anticipate that CLARISOY® soy protein will become the protein ingredient of choice for functional food and beverages. Consumers are demanding healthier food products but are unwilling to sacrifice taste and convenience. Having a 100% soluble soy protein fortified into conveniently sized beverages could be an ideal health product. We anticipate that there will be strong interest from the sports nutrition market for our CLARISOY® soy protein. Current products on the market such as snack bars, ice cream and powdered drinks can also be improved by adding CLARISOY®.
In accordance with the Letter of Intent, are you on track to enter a Definitive Agreement prior to March 1st, 2011?
Yes, continued discussions are ongoing and we are on track to sign the Definitive Agreement by March 1, 2011.
Assuming you enter a Definitive Agreement with ADMC, will you disclose the terms of the agreement at that time?
We fully anticipate entering into a Definitive Agreement by March 1st with ADM and any disclosure of the terms of the agreement will have to be agreed upon by both parties.
Disclosure: Cantech Editor Kirk Exner owns shares of Burcon.