The food landscape is changing rapidly. Consumers are looking for more options—and they want those options to be healthy, sustainable and affordable. As ingredient processors and consumer packaged good companies develop the products that meet these demands, their solutions may be novel in terms of either formulation, technology or claims used to present products to consumers.
Navigating the regulations related to each of these areas, however, isn’t always easy. Whether it’s lengthy timelines or lack of clarity on policies, barriers can crop up that make it difficult for Canada’s plant-based value chain to get their products to market. To help address the issue, Protein Industries Canada has announced a new project to work with industry partners to continue its regulatory modernization research work through The Centre for Regulatory Research and Innovation, previously the Regulatory Centre of Excellence. A total of $5.4 million has been invested into this phase of the work, with Protein Industries Canada committing $4.5 million.
“As we work to strengthen Canada’s agrifood and ingredient ecosystem, a supportive regulatory system is crucial to attracting investors and entrepreneurs,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said. “Regulations built on science support our entrepreneurs in developing new products and getting them to market in a timely, consumer-friendly fashion, which is crucial for innovation and increasing Canada’s competitiveness in the global market. By working together with our industry partners and across government organizations, we can foster a Canadian regulatory system that prioritizes both an innovative sector and consumer health and food safety, while also creating new jobs and a stronger economy.”
Since its initial launch in April 2022, the Centre has helped companies across the plant protein ecosystem navigate Canada’s regulatory system while addressing knowledge gaps related to regulatory modernization in three main areas:
- How protein labelling regulations from other jurisdictions may be applied in Canada without negatively impacting nutrient density and protein quality;
- How nomenclature around product labelling affects purchase decisions and consumer interpretation of such products; and
- The validation of an in-vitro way of determining protein digestibility, to reduce animal testing.
“I think the partners involved in project have really rallied around it,” Protein Industries Canada Director of the Centre for Regulatory Research and Innovation Chris Marinangeli said. “In the next iteration of the Center for Regulatory Research and Innovation, there’s going to be some building off of ’what we learned in the first phase. Having a variety of stakeholders involved in the advisory process has been great. External input has been very helpful along the way.”
The work undertaken in the next phase of the Centre will build on that completed during the first phase, and in particular will create data that fosters an enabling regulatory and policy environment to help support and strengthen Canada’s plant-based sector. Marinangeli explained that, if successful, this could provide more flexibility for highlighting the protein content of foods, without animal testing, and for companies to describe or name their products in retail.
“The food landscape has been changing drastically over the last few years, and the same challenges seem to rise to the top,” Marinangeli said. “There is a lot of discussion around evaluating regulation related to the changing food landscape, evaluating policy and understanding alignment with healthy dietary patterns. This is a unique opportunity for Canada to address these issues.”
As Canada works to strengthen its plant-based ecosystem, in an effort to compete with other countries and become a leader in the global market, modernizing its regulatory system is one of the most important steps it can take. The work of the Centre for Regulatory Research and Innovation can help, while ensuring our regulations and policies continue to prioritize food and consumer health and safety.