Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredients sector is growing, but it faces a barrier in reaching its full potential. In order to increase the sector’s scale of operations, it needs to quickly attract significantly more capital into the country. While most plant-based ingredient processors and food manufacturers across Canada have experienced first-hand the need for start-up capital—and the difficulty that can be found in attaining it—efforts are being made to create larger pools of start-up and expansion capital for several underserved areas of our Canadian plant-based industry’s current needs. This isn’t an easy challenge to overcome, but through a collaborative strategy aimed at building knowledge within both the capital community and the sector itself, it can be done at the quick pace required to help Canada supply 10 per cent of the growing global demand for plant-based food products.
“Attracting capital is really the foundation for Canada to be able to be able to attract and grow the companies that it needs to, but also to participate in its share of the global opportunity that exists,” Protein Industries Canada Chief Financial Officer Kassandra Quayle said. “It’s also a really important part of building an ecosystem … when you start to have capital, that’s where the companies will establish themselves. So where capital is available, that’s where companies will typically set up their facilities.”
Increasing the availability and flow of capital into Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredients sector has become an increasingly important priority for Protein Industries Canada. Most recently, the organization’s work in the area includes developing a capital-focused strategy, reaching out to potential capital investors, acting as a matchmaker between investors and companies looking for investment, and looking at potential Capacity Building projects that could help boost overall capital investment. While each has a slightly different planned outcome, all will help Canada achieve its goal of increasing ingredient and processing capacity through increased flow of capital into the sector.
While there’s still progress to be made, Quayle said the sector has seen some success in drawing interest from capital investors—and that Protein Industries Canada can’t take all the credit for achieving it. A large reason for the increasing interest among investors is the growing success of companies across Canada alongside their increasing level of communication and understanding of the opportunity for Canadian businesses to succeed. From companies sharing their own success stories to those sharing the story of the opportunity available in Canada, every article, video, social post and blog post helps create much-needed awareness about the industry in Canada.
“The collaboration among our members, and so a larger organization with an SME, helps that SME grow, it helps from a mentorship perspective and an overall growth perspective,” Quayle said. “And our members are always really willing to talk about their success stories, which helps to bring, sort of, the realness to the opportunity that exists.”
Sharing these stories has helped increase the capital community’s understanding of what’s happening in Canada, and how today’s collaborations will shape the future. However, Quayle and the other staff at Protein Industries Canada don’t see their work as being complete. They look forward to continuing their work to increase access to capital, whether it be by working with member companies or the capital community.
“Access to capital is critical. Every member says it’s their top or second barrier to growth and scaling,” Quayle said. “Between the capital community and our members and Protein Industries Canada, we have to really focus on this as a priority. We need to take action now.”