Most of us would agree that agriculture is an important part of Canada’s economy. As a sector, it employs 2.1 million people and generates $134.9 billion (around 6.8 per cent) of Canada's gross domestic product (GDP).
It has been a cornerstone of our country since confederation. From coast-to-coast-to-coast, agriculture and food is contributing to a stable and healthy Canada. And, like other industries that are key to Canada’s success, such as the auto sector, it is going through a transition.
The increased demand for plant-based foods is an example of that transition. Consumer preferences are starting to shift and become more inclusive of all types of protein. This, layered with the growing global demand for protein, has created a new opportunity for Canada—and a chance for our food sector to become an even more important player in Canada’s industrial landscape.
In September of 2021, Protein Industries Canada released The Road to $25 Billion. We based this plan on a market assessment completed by Ernst and Young (EY) in 2019 that estimated the global plant-based food market at $250 Billion. The Road to $25 Billion is a plan to build out Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredient sector into a globally relevant industry in Canada, supported by 17,000 jobs by 2035. It’s our plan to seize Canada’s opportunity.
Over the past several years, Canada has made impressive progress in establishing itself as a global leader in plant-based ingredients and food – we welcomed Roquette, the largest pea processing plant in the world. Ingredion built in Saskatchewan and later expanded through the purchase of Verdient. Prairie Fava – a family-owned farm and processor — now sends their ingredients around the world. You can taste food from innovation supported by a number Protein Industries Canada projects in restaurants from Winnipeg to Singapore.
However, we have also seen challenges, including strained supply chains, rapidly evolving consumer habits, the tightening of capital markets, instability in geopolitical environments and concerns over energy security.
With the challenges of the last two years, we again engaged EY, and asked them to look at the global market size of plant-based food and ingredients, to ensure the global and Canadian opportunities still exist.
And while the results are still preliminary, they are optimistic about the outlook for plant-based foods. They remain confident in the $25 billion opportunity for Canada.
However, what has changed is Canada’s standing on the global stage.
Our value proposition as a reliable supplier of high-protein crops, our commitment to sustainability, our values alignment, energy security and stable political environment have increased Canada’s standing internationally. The world is looking to Canada.
Yet domestically, there is much more we can do to elevate agriculture and food, specifically ingredient and food processing, as a significant player in Canada’s industrial policy.
At Protein Industries Canada, we have no doubt that this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Canada. We have the chance to secure global supply chains with Canada as the anchor. Companies around the world are looking for places to build their ingredient processing plants — billions’ worth of capital investment. Canada can be at the top of that list.
We offer a strong value proposition. But other countries are aggressively attracting the investment. We need to ensure that Canada is competitive. As a country, we need to embrace this opportunity and embrace food as a key pillar of Canada’s industrial policy.
Canada must give food – something we all need – the recognition it deserves. By doing so, we will create a stronger Canadian economy and a healthier Canada.