CEO, New School Foods
Co-Founder, Lucent BioSciences
CEO, Protein Industries Canada
Through its various initiatives and partnerships, Protein Industries Canada is positively contributing to Canada’s net-zero goal.
The agrifood sector, like all sectors of the economy, needs to innovate and become more sustainable en route to net-zero emissions,” says Bill Greuel, CEO of Protein Industries Canada, an industry-led not-for-profit organization. “Plant-based food can play a critical role in that transition.”
The environmental sustainability benefits of plant-based foods are some of the strongest drivers for their growing popularity—so much so that it’s one of the first reasons most consumers list when describing why they choose to incorporate the products into their diet.
The agrifood sector, like all sectors of the economy, needs to innovate and become more sustainable en route to net-zero emissions. Plant-based food can play a critical role in that transition.Bill Greuel, CEO of Protein Industries Canada
It’s no surprise. According to the Boston Consulting Group’s 2021 report “Food for Thought”, an 11 per cent shift in the consumption of meat and eggs would lead to a significant reduction in GHG emissions: “…by 2035, the [11 per cent] shift to plant-based meat and eggs alone will have saved more than 1 gigaton of CO2eqv. That’s the equivalent of Japan going completely carbon neutral for an entire year.”
Between its already strong agriculture industry and growing plant-based sector, Canada has an opportunity to be a global leader in achieving such significant GHG reduction. Greuel notes that in order for us to achieve this leadership status, however, we have to continue to increase our strategic investments in food products with lower carbon footprints.
Investing in the plant-based food space
To avert the worst impacts of climate change, the Government of Canada has committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
Protein Industries Canada is helping Canada reach its net-zero goal through a number of initiatives. “On a macro level, what we’re doing is investing in the plant-based food space, which gives consumers choice about the protein sources and products they want to eat,” says Greuel.
As one of Canada’s five Global Innovation Clusters, Protein Industries Canada manages an innovation investment fund to help accelerate the growth of Canada’s plant-based food and ingredient sector. It funds innovations in ingredients through to food manufacturing, allowing more choice and increasing accessibility for consumers.
These innovations are also supporting a reduction in Canada’s GHG emissions.
Protein Industries Canada member New School Foods, for example, is a company that has created an innovative salmon alternative whose production is expected to result in a lower environmental footprint than its traditional counterpart.
“We’re entirely focused on creating a whole-cut plant-based meat alternative,” says Chris Bryson, New School Foods’ founder and CEO. “Unlike products like ground beef or flaked canned tuna, whole-cut refers to how about two thirds of meat is purchased in the grocery store — like a steak or filet of fish. If we don’t have plant-based alternatives for whole-cut meats, we haven’t tackled the bigger part of the problem.” This product appeals to consumers who have chosen to stop eating meat for environmental reasons, but who still desire the taste, texture, and overall experience of eating a meat-like product.
The supercluster helped us go from the lab all the way to manufacturing and commercialization, with lotsChris Bryson, New School Foods’ founder and CEO
of introductions and relationship-building along the way.
New School Foods started with a salmon alternative, as the team noticed the seafood category was under-addressed. Besides focusing only on taste and price, the company also focused on how its salmon alternative looks, cooks, and flakes. To achieve this, it partnered with leading food science universities to develop novel processing and scaffolding technologies that deliver a number of firsts for the meat alternative industry. This partnership and innovation were made possible in large part thanks to Protein Industries Canada’s co-investment.
The power of partnership
Thanks to its proprietary platform for creating whole-cut meat alternatives and unique market offering, which is currently being tested and fine-tuned by chefs, New School Foods is one of the Protein Industries Canada partners that’s directly making an impact on Canada’s net-zero goals.
“We’re just getting started,” says Bryson. “Protein Industries Canada’s funding is going to allow us to develop all kinds of whole-cut products. We’re very excited about the new technology we’ve developed.”
Another partnership is with Lucent BioSciences, an organization that’s supporting sustainable agriculture through upcycling and waste reduction.
“Our mission is to develop sustainable crop nutrition products that work better and cost less while also improving soil health and sequestering carbon,” says Jason McNamee, co-founder of Lucent BioSciences. “That’s the product we’re bringing to market, Soileos, and we’re doing it via whole seed utilization.”
Through their processing method, Lucent BioSciences is able to make use of the parts of crops that traditionally go to waste during the protein ingredient development process. It’s a project that’s brought environmental benefits to nearly every link in the value chain.
Protein Industries Canada’s support was invaluable to Lucent BioSciences. “The supercluster helped us go from the lab all the way to manufacturing and commercialization, with lots of introductions and relationship-building along the way,” says McNamee.
Protein Industries Canada is also focused on tracking their project partners’ impacts in reducing GHG emissions. “We’re developing a consortium of companies to fund and support a measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) data-tracking tool,” says Greuel. “One of the challenges we have in the food system is figuring out how to track, measure, and report emissions throughout the entire lifecycle of a crop. While crop production starts on farms and includes emissions from crop inputs and production, we have to consider the emissions as the product moves throughout the entire value chain, including fuel and transportation. The new MRV tool will look at the movement of commodities throughout that value chain and measure the emissions reduction at each step.”
With so many advances underway, the future of the plant-based food industry is bright — and Protein Industries Canada is leading the way.
Learn more at proteinindustriescanada.ca.