The Changing Nature of Food
Saskatchewan and the Protein Highway
What we eat, and the way in which our food is developed will soon see some dramatic changes globally – and our province will be among those leading the transformation!
There has been a marked increase in the demand for protein in recent years, driven by: diet trends; environmental concerns; a societal focus on muscle building by athletes, seniors and others; individuals and families opting for meal-replacement bars and shakes; and more.
The world’s protein requirement for its approximately 7.3 billion residents has been estimated to be about 202 million tonnes1. The United Nations is predicting that the world’s population will reach 9.7 billion by 2052, which suggests the world will experience a colossal increase in protein demand over the next 30 or so years.
Plant protein has become an increasingly important player in the protein industry. Giving credence to this trend, Canada’s new Food Guide, which was publicly unveiled in February 2019, encourages the consumption of plant-based proteins, such as legumes, beans, and tofu “more often” than other protein sources. Saskatchewan-based Protein Industries Canada (PIC) has projected that by 2050, plant protein will account for 1/3 of the world’s protein market.
This predicted increase provides Saskatchewan, as a major world food source, with both significant challenges, and significant opportunities to help address some of our global food production and consumption issues and to grow our economy.
Now Canada, and more specifically western Canada is poised to play a major role in the future of plant protein and food innovation in Canada and around the world, as the result of a recent new federal government initiative.
Canada Protein Supercluster Investment
On November 13, of 2018, the Canadian government announced the signing of an agreement to invest up to $153 million, matched dollar for dollar by the private sector, in the Prairie-based Protein Industries Canada Supercluster (PIC). PIC is a conglomerate of producers, businesses, post-secondary institutions and non-profit organizations which have come together to form a “supercluster” working to position Canada as a world leader in the growing market for high-quality plant-based proteins.
PIC includes more than120 private-sector companies members and contributors. ISM Canada is delighted to be one of these industry leading Western Canadian organizations which are focused on developing the potential of plant-based proteins from crops such as canola pulses, grains, hemp, and flax.
While this supercluster is very new, it is already receiving recognition from major global food innovators and networking agencies. Founder of the major food networking company Bridge2Food (located in The Netherlands), Gerard Klein Essink has said that through PICCanada has a unique opportunity to supply the foods which will bring high quality protein to the world.
This initiative then not only positions us to make a major difference in the health of societies and the environment around the world, but also to grow the Canadian economy.
At its official launch in November of 2018, Ralph Goodale emphasized that the PIC Supercluster is great news for the economy of the Prairies and for Canadian agriculture. He believes that the intersectoral collaboration positions Canada to be among global leaders in the fast-growing plant protein market.
Thought LeadersSummit – Protein Industry Canada
Anticipating the signing of the federal agreement, PIC hosted a Thought Leaders Summit in October of 2018. The Summit brought together more than 280 leaders in the food and food innovation sectors and provided a spotlight on the work being done by food superclusters around the globe in areas such as Europe, Denmark and Australia.
The Danish Food Cluster is a hub for food innovators. It has created a world-class community of knowledge providers, investors and companies by levering innovation within the Danish food industry. The cluster is dedicated to creating opportunities for networking, interaction, branding, and increased international visibility, helping to contribute to the growth of members and the industry as a whole.
The European Food Alliance is a collaboration between 7 European food clusters representing both small and large agri-food companies. It offers a knowledge exchange through the connection of business and research competences in solving the greatest challenges facing us globally today.
In Australian, Food Innovation Australia Ltd (FIAL) is supporting collaborative partnerships in food and beverage and agribusiness across the value chains. Using one to one matched funding, this program encourages businesses, public agencies, researchers and educational institutions to work collaboratively on building competitive advantage, addressing opportunities and developing solutions to challenges that otherwise could not be resolved.
A variety of studies done on superclusters over the past approximately 50 years have found that industry clustering can play a key role in economic growth, increased corporate productivity, and can trigger new business development and innovation.
So… what’s holding us back?
What’s next for PIC
Canada’s protein investment supercluster, PIC, is on the brink of some very important and exciting collaborative work. As a PIC stakeholder and contributor, ISM Canada is excited about the opportunities for innovation and growth PIC provides the Canadian economy.
Over the next few months the PIC team will begin the exciting work of engaging with stakeholders and contributors, and with defining and executing on projects that will help to increase the value of key crops in premium markets and meet the growing demands for plant-based protein globally.
In my next column we’ll look specifically at what’s being done in Saskatchewan to leverage this emerging protein opportunity.
- Henchion, M., Hayes, M., Mullen, A., Fenelon, M. and Tiwari, B. (2017). Future Protein Supply and Demand: Strategies and Factors Influencing a Sustainable Equilibrium. Foods, 6(7), 53.
- United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/news/population/2015-report.html