With a burgeoning Chinese middle-class, the story of increased worldwide demand for food, particularly protein, is an every-other-week front page story.
The dream of large scale protein production from plants is a step closer today. Vancouver-based Burcon Nutrascience (TSX:BU) this morning announced that its partner, Archer Daniels Midland, has constructed a commercial-scale plant in Decatur, Illinois. The plant, which is already operational, will produce Clarisoy 100, a vegetable-based soluble protein product Burcon designed to be used in sports drinks and fruit juice.
Today’s announcement follows a twenty-year license agreement signed in March of last year that gives ADM the right to market and sell Burcon’s full line of Clarisoy products globally. Burcon will be paid a royalty on sales.
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Randy Willardsen, senior vice-president, process, of Burcon said: “ADM has been a world leader in the soy protein business for over 20 years…” adding: “Their know-how and expertise in production and sale of food ingredients — including their commitment to innovation — makes ADM the ideal company to bring Clarisoy to market.”
Founded in 1998, Burcon Nutrascience owns more than 170 patents around the extraction and purification of protein from plants. The company now has a range of plant derived protein offerings. In addition to the the aforementioned Clarisoy, Burcon has developed Supertein, a canola protein isolate that can provide a balanced amino acid for desserts and protein bars, and Peazazz, a pea-based protein that can be used gluten-free and vegetarian and vegan foods.
While consumption of meat has leveled off in developed countries, the UK’s Guardian points out that the trend is strongly correlated to rising affluence in emerging markets. In 1961, they point out, the average Chinese person consumed 3.6 kilograms of meat. That number spiked to 52.4 kilograms per person, per year in 2002. In a comprehensive 2010 white paper called “The economics of meeting future protein demand” Katarzyna Markiewicz argues that while it is “illusion to assume that people all over the world will convert to (or stay in) a vegetarian diet…” using alternative sources of proteins such as those derived from plants could provide a sustainable and socially acceptable solution.
At press time, shares of Burcon were up .2% to $6.40.