Canada is in the midst of a $25 billion opportunity. The global demand for healthy, sustainable protein options is growing, and with it the need for both increased investment and innovative solutions that help Canada’s plant-based companies meet the ever-evolving demands of consumers.
Significant progress has been made in both areas since Protein Industries Canada launched its first Market Forecast and Competitiveness Study in 2021, as evidenced by the new plant-based foods and beverages that have made their way into restaurants and onto grocery store shelves. Much of the success of these new products can, according to Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel, be credited to both the innovative drive of their entrepreneurs and the valuable assets those entrepreneurs can take advantage of by building their facilities in Canada.
Similar to the 2021 report, the updated Market Forecast and Competitiveness Study released this September outlines five key areas in which Canada holds a competitive advantage over other jurisdictions: Crop production and ingredient manufacturing; Sustainable production; Government support; Business enablers; and Market access. While these areas are considered strengths, they also provide a good indication of where Canada can focus its efforts in order to further grow its plant-based sector—a sector both the original and updated report predict could reach $25 billion in annual sales by 2035.
“Given all the changes in the marketplace and in the world since the original report was done, [the report is] still bullish on the long-term growth of the sector,” Greuel said. “The fundamentals underpinning the growth of the sector are still very strong, and what we’re experiencing now, based on this report, is some short-term markets down-turn, but long-term findings suggest the growth of the plant-based food sector will be significant.”
The updated study bases its predictions of further growth largely on three market segments: Plant-based meat; plant-based dairy; and plant-based baking fortification. Each segment is expected to see increased R&D and purchasing over the next several years, helping the sector as a whole reach a global market size of $250 billion by 2035.
It’s anticipated Canada can hold approximately 10 per cent of this market annually, if it increases both its innovation related to new foods and ingredients and strategic investments in the sector. Of particular importance, Greuel said, is investment into ingredient processing in the Prairies.
“The biggest thing that I am hoping to see is increased investment in ingredient manufacturing in the Prairies,” he said. “That’s the piece that’s going to drive price parity. The more ingredient manufacturing capacity we have built out, the better we’ll be able to supply food manufacturers with the ingredients they need, and that, again, drives consumer adoption, because accessibility and prices is such a huge factor.”
Despite this opportunity to improve, Greuel said Canada has made progress in growing its plant-based sector. Companies throughout the country are already improving the taste, texture and nutritional profile of their products, helping meet the demands of consumers around the world. This focus on improving the functionality and consumer appeal of each ingredients and finished food products will continue, for companies and organizations such as Protein Industries Canada alike.
“It really serves to highlight some of the issues and challenges facing the market in terms of diversity of product offerings, increasing supply chain resilience, some of those things came out in this report, that we really need to focus our innovation on,” Greuel said. “It also highlights the need for a diversified innovation portfolio for Protein Industries Canada, because we see market opportunities in all three of those segments that we assessed … so thinking about the diversification of our investments at that end of the value chain—product formulation and creation—will be critically important, as well.”
As investments into new product formulation and development continue, so will Canada’s opportunity to become a leader in the global plant-based market—eventually leading to the ability to capture a $25 billion market share that will lead to benefits for companies and families alike.
Protein Industries Canada