Members of the Protein Industries Canada supercluster see collaboration as a key part of advancing Canada’s plant-protein sector. By coming together and building on each other’s strengths, businesses can take their initiatives further than they could alone.
ulivit, a pulse-based food processor and retailer, is one of many businesses experiencing this first-hand. Though it’s a relatively small business, ulivit has great potential in the plant-based protein world—a fact the company’s owners, sisters Laura and Carla Gustafson, are proud to point to.
“Being a small start-up has advantages,” Laura said. “It allows us the independence to work with trusted partners within the supportive plant-based food community and to nimbly adapt to our consumers’ wants.”
An additional strength that other companies don’t have, she explained, comes from the sisters’ relationship.
“I see working with my sister as a great opportunity: inherent trust and we have completely different, complimentary skill sets.”
The setup has been working for ulivit so far. In June 2020, the company announced a partnership with AGT Food and Ingredients. With a partial investment from Protein Industries Canada, the companies are working together to develop and market a new line of plant-based protein meal options to address the growing flexitarian and vegan markets.
The pulses used to develop the new products will be grown and processed in Canada. This, Laura explained, is becoming increasingly important to many Canadian consumers.
“People are becoming more aware with where their food comes from and who is making it,” she said. “Creating food in the heart of where it is grown is the best. It’s less taxing on our planet’s resources and people want to support and eat more local.”
ulivit’s partnership with AGT Food and Ingredients began about a year ago. The company was set on the supercluster path some years prior, however, when they heard about an opportunity in the works. Everything fell into place after attending one of Protein Industries Canada’s information sessions and discovering the support behind Canada’s superclusters.
“This Supercluster has opened doors for ulivit and created opportunities with global leaders and innovative companies that would have been very difficult, if not impossible, on our own,” Laura said.
As the project with AGT Food and Ingredients progresses, ulivit is only likely to see those opportunities expand.