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Home » Industry » The Plant-Based Sector Is Good for Canada — Here’s Why
Bill Greuel

Bill Greuel

CEO, Protein Industries Canada

Chris Bryson

Chris Bryson

Founder, New School Foods

Jasmine Byrne

Jasmine Byrne

President, Big Mountain Foods

The plant-based sector in Canada is growing rapidly, and this growth is providing myriad benefits for Canadians.

Did you know that Canada is a global leader in plant-based protein? We produce a variety of unique, high-protein crops, specifically canola and pulses, and we can quickly adapt and scale new high-protein crops. “We’re the world’s largest producer and exporter of peas, chickpeas, durum, and canola,” says Bill Greuel, CEO of Protein Industries Canada.

The plant-based food sector has a current retail value of $700 million in Canada, and it’s growing steadily at 12 to 14 percent per year. The growth is fuelled by increasing consumer awareness of the environmental and health impact of our food choices along with concern about issues like animal welfare — and it’s good news for Canada.

By creating food options that are less resource-intensive, we can enable a safer, more climate-friendly future.

Investing collaboratively to accelerate innovation

Protein Industries Canada (PIC) is a not-for-profit organization created to position Canada as a global source of high-quality plant protein and plant-based co-products. It aims to accelerate the Canadian plant protein sector’s innovation and competitiveness.

“We administer a $173-million fund that originates from the Government of Canada,” explains Greuel. “We co-invest in science and innovation projects with private-sector partners.”

PIC works with companies to gain pathways to customers, markets, and partnerships that they couldn’t access on their own, helping them leverage their expertise and innovations with that of large and multinational enterprises, public-sector organizations, and academia.

One such partner is New School Foods, a plant-based seafood company. “PIC has been helping us as we pursue R&D projects to create a plant-based filet of fish,” says Chris Bryson, New School Foods’ founder. “We’re aiming to create a product that looks, cooks, tastes, and flakes just like fish.”

Another partner is Big Mountain Foods, a plant-based food manufacturing company specializing in allergen-free, clean label, and always fresh products. “Our project with PIC has led us to commercialize the first chickpea tofu to retailers across North America,” says Jasmine Byrne, President of Big Mountain Foods. “The alternative tofu product line uses 100 percent Canadian-grown pulses.”

Positioning Canada as a plant-based leader

The plant-based sector provides many benefits to Canada, from securing our food supply chain to creating jobs and positively impacting the environment.

“With the growth of plant-based foods, we have an opportunity for GDP growth, job growth, and sustainable and inclusive economic growth,” says Greuel. From manufacturing jobs to food science and engineering jobs, the industry provides many opportunities.

The sector also has a positive effect on the environment and climate change. “Current agricultural practices aren’t scalable to feed a growing population of 10 billion by 2050,” says Bryson. “By creating food options that are less resource-intensive, we can enable a safer, more climate-friendly future.”

The Road to $25 Billion is a recently-launched roadmap for Canada’s plant-based food, feed, and ingredient ecosystem. Through this initiative, PIC and its partners across the sector aim to grow the plant-based sector to $25 billion by 2035. By investing in Canada’s fast-growing plant-based sector and working together collaboratively, we can help to create a stronger economy, more jobs, a healthy environment, and healthy Canadians.

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