CEO, Protein Industries Canada
Demands around food are changing. Consumers are increasingly looking for meals that are convenient and sustainably produced, while still meeting their health and nutrition needs.
While plenty of options are available for meeting Canadians’ protein needs, plant-based foods are some of the most likely to check all of the above boxes. And with each new investment made into Canada’s plant-based food and ingredients space, consumers can expect new, innovative foods and beverages that meet their needs.
New products, improved protein content
One of the priorities for innovation supercluster Protein Industries Canada is to co-invest in research and development projects focused on improving or expanding Canada’s plant-based food and ingredient offerings. Companies across the country have been quick to respond to calls for projects. Already, progress has been made on the development of crop varieties that have a higher-than-average protein content, as well as on new processing technology to turn them into the ingredients that will become consumers’ newest favourite foods.
“The collaborative nature of these projects helps take their innovation to a new level,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said. “The companies and organizations involved are able to build on each others’ strengths, create feedback loops and leverage intellectual property in ways a single company wouldn’t be able to on its own. It helps create new ideas and new ways of thinking that lead to the solutions that will create the next generation of ingredients and foods Canadians will soon enjoy.”
New plant-based foods and beverages are also being created as part of these projects. Of particular note are canola protein ingredients, plant-based seafood products, pulse-based flours, and a protein powder that can be mixed into beverages or soft foods, or flushed through feeding tubes.
An eye on sustainability
Throughout this product development, Canada’s farmers, ingredient processors and food manufacturers have maintained a focus on sustainability. The majority of the co-investment projects will reduce Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredients sector’s environmental impact as a result of their work. Some, for example, are focused on reducing water or energy use in ingredient processing, while others are focused on reducing on-farm inputs, such as the project developing artificial intelligence spraying technology that specifically targets pests in a field.
“Environmental sustainability isn’t just a consumer demand, it’s an industry need,” Greuel said. “We rely on the environment as much as it relies on us—for high-quality inputs, for our health and for our overall quality of life. Helping ensure its health in return through sustainable production and processing practices just makes sense.”