As an organization, our focus will continue to be on creating opportunities for collaboration in the following areas. In addition to the seven priorities listed below, Protein Industries Canada believes the inclusion of Indigenous Communities and other under-represented populations is an important part of creating economic growth for Canada. We believe that there are many opportunities to create mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous groups across Western Canada to help advance the plant-protein sector, and encourage industry consortiums to include Indigenous leaders and businesses in all Capacity Building projects.
Improving Canada’s Capacity Through Collaboration
Our ability to realize Canada's potential depends on collaboration. As a catalyst for positive change, we want to ensure our priorities are aligned with the greatest need and opportunity in the sector. That is why, in February 2020, we held direct consultations with our members and stakeholders from across the Canadian agriculture industry. The final report from the consultations is now available.
The Project Approval Committee
The Project Approval Committee includes one independent industry expert plus Protein Industries Canada Senior Leadership Team. The Project Approval Committee evaluates and makes the final decision regarding co-investment into a project. The Project Approval Committee may approve the project, deny a project, approve with conditions or requests for further information, or approve only a portion or specific aspect of the project.
At no time prior to, during, or following a project evaluation, may a member of a consortium attempt to influence or have a conversation about their project with any member of the Project Approval Committee. Doing so may result in the project being disqualified. All members are expected to comply with the Code of Member Conduct and the Project Approval Committee-Applicant Interaction Policy.
Global Brand and International Engagement
Canada enjoys a positive reputation worldwide for the production and delivery of quality plant-protein products. But we cannot rest on this reputation alone. The global plant-protein industry is a competitive space and standing still means falling behind. Communicating our industry’s commitment to quality, sustainability, and traceability are important. Utilizing our membership’s network of international contacts, Protein Industries Canada is taking every opportunity we can to speak to why Canada is a preferred supplier of plant based foods and ingredients. At the end of the day, it is Canada’s brand that sets us apart from the competition. The success of our brand however is contingent on the combined success of efforts across all priority areas.
Labour, Skills, and Access to Talent
Attracting, training and retaining talent throughout the value chain remains a major challenge for the sector. A coordinated approach across the ecosystem is required. Collaboration to understand current, as well as future needs requires the involvement of academic institutions, trade schools, large and small companies, governments and others. Getting the next generation interested in agriculture is one piece of the puzzle, but it extends further. A general lack of awareness of the opportunities that exist today and in the future are hindering members’ abilities to attract talent. PIC is well placed to champion the growth of the industry to each part of the value chain and ensure that our academic institutions are preparing students for the jobs to come.
In addition, PIC can connect members and governments to facilitate a discussion on improvements to Canada’s immigration system. It is no secret that if we are to grow the industry to its potential, we will need to look beyond Canada’s borders to ensure we re attracting the best talent in the world. The end results can be early engagement to get young people at home and abroad excited and invested n a career in the plant-protein industry.
Access to Capital
Canada is well positioned to be the global leader in plant-based protein. Our resources, production and entrepreneurial spirit make us an ideal place to do business. But as we all know, business requires capital. Attracting investors into the plant-based protein space, as well as connecting investors to companies with innovative ideas, is a priority for the industry. PIC will continue to connect companies looking to invest in this emerging sector with Canadian entrepreneurs whose ideas will grow our industry. This includes providing start-up companies with resources to learn how to raise capital and increasing awareness among lenders of the opportunity that exists in the plant-protein space. PIC is well positioned to be the conduit in connecting these two important segments of the ecosystem.
Canada is a federation, which for industry means regulatory requirements in different jurisdictions and at different government levels. One thing we consistently hear from members and the entire value chain is the need to streamline regulations in order to create a positive environment for business. Much like with infrastructure, Protein Industries Canada can play a leadership role in this area, bringing common sense to Canada’s regulatory framework with the end goal of aligning the regulatory system with the innovation. Businesses can innovate; however, they need a regulatory framework that not only allows innovation, but one that fosters it. Regulatory approvals must keep pace with industry in areas of plant breeding innovation, product approvals, the issuing of business licences, ability to build capital projects, and beyond.
With members throughout the value chain, PIC will continue to identify regulatory pain points and work with relevant decision makers to ensure our regulatory framework is encouraging business development.
Canada’s ability to deliver innovative plant-protein products to global markets can only be as strong as our infrastructure. Transportation infrastructure continues to require improvements as Canada looks to increase exports using existing capacity. Here, Protein Industries Canada can leverage connections with governments of all levels to serve as a voice for improvement. By understanding requirements throughout the value chain, we can focus on what can be improved, and who is required around the table to make it happen. This extends beyond transportation. It is also fundamental to ensure R&D, processing and other infrastructure keeps pace with global demand. By elevating areas where industry has identified gaps, PIC will continue to bring the right groups together to work toward constructive, long-term solutions to meet our industry’s common infrastructure needs to support growth now and in the future.
Data and ICT Management
Managing data, and furthering leveraging it to improve processes and make decisions is key to advancing the agri-food sector. The opportunities around data regarding precision agriculture, improved production techniques, regulations, supporting Canada’s sustainability story, and providing consumers with the information they are requesting are all part of the evolving agri-food ecosystem.
The challenge is that not a lot of agriculture data is digitized, and organizations have a challenge in using data as a path to a solution. Secondly, there is a challenge in creating a data strategy solely for the plant protein sector, as Canada’s agri-food sectors are extremely integrated.
Protein Industries Canada, through our data strategy, recognizes the opportunity to positively impact the marketplace by focusing on four identified activities: industry leadership, enhanced collaboration, improved data literacy, and the development of data architecture.
Intellectual Property Literacy
A cornerstone of innovation, and the Global Innovation Cluster Initiative, is the commercialization of intellectual property (IP). Canada has always been a country of inventors and innovators. We have strong scientific capacity that leads to the creation of new knowledge and technologies; however, we lag behind other industrialized nations in our ability to realize the value of IP. This is despite the numerous studies that indicate that SMEs that hold IP are four times more likely to export and 64 per cent more likely to be high-growth firms than those who do not.
While there is still much to learn, Canadian companies and PIC members have a high interest in intellectual property. Recent successes in leveraging and commercializing IP will continue to drive this demand.