Global demand for animal, fish and plant protein keeps growing, driven by rising populations and rising affluence in developing countries. Meat animals require plant-based protein feeds. Aquaculture will account for all growth in fish consumption, with plant-based protein an essential feed source. And humans will turn to plant-based proteins to account for more of their protein intake. This means global agriculture will have to produce more protein on the same (or shrinking) land base and with more efficient use of input resources.
It spells opportunity for Canadian farmers and the Canadian value-added economy.
This is why the federal government chose Protein Industries Canada (PIC) as one of five groups to get funding through a research superclusters program announced in February 2018. The $150 million in federal government money labeled for PIC spurred commitments of over $200 million from private sector companies and $150 million from venture capital.
PIC will identify and develop opportunities for Canadian crops, especially peas and canola, to increase their shares in a global plant-based protein market currently dominated by soy.
At proteinindustriescanada.ca, under the Goals & Strategy heading, it says plant-based protein is a $13 billion market opportunity.
“Outcomes from this cluster will be a new range of plant-derived foods, ingredients and feedstuffs of superior quality, commanding market premiums,” the site continues. “As such, the initial focus will be on value-added canola and pulse crop derived products developed by the value chain, including germplasm innovation, crop management technologies, through to advanced processing technologies yielding novel products and further enhancing value through quality, traceability and brand identity.”
Curtis Rempel, vice president of crop production and innovation for the Canola Council of Canada, says private investment is directed to projects using big data, algorithms and robotics to improve sustainable, reliable production of high-quality canola protein, and into block chain technology for more secure and immediate transactions in the supply chain. “Companies like Farmers Edge and the EMILI Consortium have already initiated projects that advance this tech space for canola production,” Rempel says.
“Protein Industries Canada is an industry-led private-public partnership that will bring together genomics, big data and robotics, novel processing and product development to enable Canada to meet the rising global demand for sustainably-produced high-quality plant protein for human, companion animal and aquaculture markets,” Rempel says.
Protein Industries Canada will host its Thought Leaders Summit on October 3-4, 2018 at the Fairmont Winnipeg. This will serve as the official launch of the supercluster. The conference will inform PIC members, supporters and contributors on policies and processes that will be used for program funding, and set out the future priorities for PIC projects.
For more, go to proteinindustriescanada.ca.