Swiss food and beverage conglomerate Nestlé SA is teaming up with plant protein firms, Burcon and Merit, to accelerate its development of plant-based meat and dairy ingredients.

"Developing nutritious and great-tasting plant-based meat and dairy alternatives requires access to tasty, nutritious and sustainable raw materials as well as proprietary manufacturing technology," said Stefan Palzer, Nestlé chief technology officer. "The partnership with Burcon and Merit will give us access to unique expertise and a new range of high-quality ingredients for plant-based food and beverages."

Nestlé said its plant-based product range included soya, pea and wheat-based burger patties, sausages, mince meat, chicken fillets and various prepared dishes. It has also developed pea and oat-based dairy alternatives; almond, coconut and oat-based creamers; as well as a range of non-dairy ice creams. Last October, it announced that it had developed vegan alternatives to cheese and bacon to complement its plant-based burger patties, offering the three ingredients for a no compromise ‘bacon cheeseburger’.

“The new partnership combines Nestlé’s expertise in the development, production and commercialisation of plant-based foods and beverages with Burcon’s proprietary plant protein extraction and purification technology, while leveraging Merit’s state-of-the-art plant protein production capabilities,” Nestlé said.

Canada’s Burcon Nutrascience manufactures plant-based proteins derived from pea, canola, soya, hemp, sunflower seed and various other crops.

Merit Functional Foods is a joint venture between Burcon and an investor group which is building a plant protein production plant in Manitoba, Canada that will produce Burcon’s pea and canola protein ingredients under a 20-year licensing deal.The plant’s groundbreaking ceremony was held in September 2019, with operations expected to begin in the middle of this year.