'Extraordinary' functional properties of Burcon's proteins

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Burcon NutraSciences sees excellent prospects for canola protein
isolates after independant report highlights strong functional

An independent study of the two protein products developed by Canadian firm Burcon NutraScience has shown that they have "extraordinary"​ functional properties.

Not surprisingly, Burcon said it welcomed the report, adding that the news reinforced its expectations of the significant commercial value of the Puratein and Supertein products.

The independent study was carried out by the Fraunhofer Institute based in Germany, a pioneer in the development and manipulation of new plant protein ingredients. The Institute was asked to compare the functional properties of the canola protein isolates with commercial benchmarks.

These commercial benchmarks included milk proteins (such as Na-Caseinate), soy protein isolates and egg proteins (ovalbumin and egg yolk). The testing parameters chosen by Fraunhofer were selected specifically with respect to the application of canola protein isolates' functional properties in food formulations (e.g. concentration, pH-value) which could be related to meat and sausage products, bakery products, sweet and whipped desserts, mayonnaise, dressings, ketchup and drink formulations.

The Fraunhofer report showed that the canola protein isolates had an exceptional purity and that they were almost 100 per cent soluble in neutral conditions. Supertein was also found have good solubility in acidic settings.

Both proteins had an emulsification capacity and emulsification activity which was comparable to egg yolk and better than Na-caseinate under certain conditions, while Supertein was also shown to have very good whipping properties - better even than ovalbumin (egg-white). Supertein also has a stable low-level of viscosity, a valuable attribute for some food system applications as well as certain nutritional applications, according to Burcon).

Both Puratein and Supertein show better gel-forming properties and higher gel strengths than the reference soy protein used.

Dairy and egg proteins achieve high selling prices, in large part because of their excellent functional characteristics, Burcon said, which in turn implied that there was significant revenue potential for Supertein and Puratein.

"We are producing two proteins with functional properties that will differentiate canola protein from dairy, egg and soy proteins,"​ said Allan Yap, Burcon's chairman and chief executive officer. "Puratein and Supertein should be able to establish their own position within the growing protein ingredient market place."

Burcon cited the recent report on the US protein industry carried out by market research firm Frost & Sullivan which estimated the total US market for the year 2002 at US$2.64 billion, with plant proteins making-up 47 per cent of total revenue and the balance of 53 per cent being animal proteins.

Soy protein accounts for approximately 76 per cent of the plant protein side of the market or US$941 million, while milk proteins are the dominant animal protein and are estimated at US$935 million split roughly equally between casein and whey. Dried egg-white sales are estimated at US$151 million.

"Burcon will continue to focus it research efforts on refining its protein extraction and purification technology as well as on adding value to the proteins themselves through modification,"​ Yap said. "Burcon's strategy is to use key strategic alliances to commercialise its technology and take Puratein and Supertein to market. In that regard, Burcon will investigate joint venture or licensing partnerships with US, Canadian or international entities for the production, marketing and sale of its proteins and other bio-active products that the company develops as part of its core technology."

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