CEO, Protein Industries Canada
Protein Industries Canada is transforming Canada’s protein sector by driving innovation, jobs, and global food security.
Most of us would agree that agriculture is an important part of Canada’s economy. As a sector, it employs 2.1 million people and generates $134.9 billion annually, around 6.8 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Agriculture has been a cornerstone of our country since confederation. From coast to coast to coast, agriculture and food are contributing to a stable and healthy Canada. And, like other industries that are key to Canada’s success, such as the auto sector, they’re going through a transition.
Meeting market demand
The increased demand for plant-based foods is an example of that transition. Like electric vehicles, plant-based ingredients and food can help Canada reach our climate goals while also supporting the growth of our economy. Consumer preferences are starting to shift and become more inclusive of all types of protein. This, layered with the growing global demand for protein, has created a new opportunity for Canada — and a chance for our food sector to become an even more important player in Canada’s industrial landscape.
While the creation of a strong industry requires investment in many areas — skills training, infrastructure, a competitive business environment, and supportive regulations — what is perhaps most important is innovation. Supporting innovation leads to the creation of new products and processes that meet the needs in the marketplace. It’s private business that’s best suited to understand and meet the needs of the market, and this is why it’s important that companies invest in innovation.
Driving our economy
At Protein Industries Canada, as one of Canada’s five Global Innovation Clusters, we believe that innovation is key to advancing not only our sector, but Canada’s economy. We also believe that investment into innovation in plant-based food, feed, and ingredients can help drive Canada’s economy by creating new products and processes here in Canada to meet a growing global demand for protein. It’s also what makes the Global Innovation Clusters unique — we’re industry-led. This means that companies are investing in research, development, and innovation to solve a problem or capture a market opportunity. The output has a real-life benefit and commercialization potential.
We also believe that investment into innovation in plant-based food, feed, and ingredients can help drive Canada’s economy by creating new products and processes here in Canada to meet a growing global demand for protein.
Canada’s plant-based food, feed, and ingredient sector has shown that it’s not only optimistic about the potential of the plant-based sector but committed to innovation.
From 2018 to now, Protein Industries Canada, along with industry, has invested nearly half a billion dollars into the development of genetics, digital agriculture, new processes for ingredient processing, and food manufacturing. And the output of that investment is upwards of 303 reported IP assets.
In real life, those IP assets look like:
- Innovative products on the market: a Wagyu steak replacement by Wamame Foods is hitting both five-star hotels and 7-Eleven, a fava-based tofu by Big Mountain Foods is garnering awards and retail shelf space, and new plant-based sushi by Konscious Foods is leading the plant-based revolution.
- New ingredients by Lupin Platform, Prairie Fava, and Avena Foods are helping position Canada as the plant-based ingredient supplier of choice.
- Process efficiency — with investments, we’re helping create efficiencies in existing processing facilities such as Roquette in Portage la Prairie, Man., and Ingredion in Saskatoon, Sask.
- Innovative services are coming to market, such as weed sensing from a drone flying overhead.
- Work is being done on the digestibility of plant proteins, the traceability of crops from the field to your fork, and removing solvents and other agents from processes for a cleaner, purer product.
- Great jobs are being created that will stay in Canada because they’re linked to the working of the IP developed here — the institutional knowledge and know-how that wraps around the IP as well as the equipment and facilities that live here.
So while in Canada we tend to link innovation to the cool shiny thing, it’s just as important in our cornerstone industries. And we need to continue to embrace innovation — but also the less shiny industries, such as agriculture and food, to drive Canada’s economy and create jobs while also creating a healthier Canada and contributing to global food security.
To learn more, visit proteinindustriescanada.ca.