National in scope, staff and success


Protein Industries Canada has grown alongside the country’s plant-based food and ingredients sector over the past four years. Originally comprised of a small staff located in the three Prairie provinces, today the organization is made up of more than 20 employees working from coast to coast.

The reasoning behind such a location expansion comes down to the organization’s mandate: Protein Industries Canada is dedicated to growing Canada’s full plant-based sector, regardless of geographic location. So it makes sense to have staff in place to connect with and represent businesses in as many provinces as possible.

“We always have someone close to [a company’s] region who can be that person who’s connected to them,” said Protein Industries Canada Director of Project Operations Cynthia Callahan, based out of Nova Scotia. “Personally, people here in Atlantic Canada were really excited when I came on, because they suddenly had a Protein Industries Canada staff representing them, in their mind.”

This support for local representation has been felt across the country. Sai Vanga, Protein Industries Canada’s Project Specialist located in British Columbia, has experienced it plenty of times when connecting with plant-based food and ingredient businesses in the province—particularly those looking for new partnerships or advice on how to best scale their operations.

“It makes sense that an organization like Protein Industries Canada, trying to engage and grow the plant-based ecosystem across Canada, hires people from different regions with the local food industry knowledge. We aim to establish Canada as a global source of high-quality plant ingredients and products, which cannot be achieved without engaging the value chain spread across the country,” Vanga said.

An increased availability of local knowledge has been a benefit to other Protein Industries Canada staff, as well. For some, it means a higher chance of finding the type of partner a company is looking for during the project development process. For others, it means having access to the knowledge needed to properly flesh out resources or other materials released by Protein Industries Canada.

Celeen George, a Protein Industries Canada Marketing and Communications Consultant in Manitoba, said this value can be further solidified when staff have the opportunity to meet with partners in person in order to share or build upon existing knowledge.

“It’s nice to be able to reach out to [others] and ask them, ‘Hey, does this represent the Atlantic?’ ” George said. “It also adds value to our members, just knowing that there are connections from our team in those provinces, territories or islands.”

While expanding across Canada was an important and beneficial step for Protein Industries Canada to take, coordination among staff doesn’t come without its challenges. The country’s spanning time zones, in particular, can occasionally cause difficulties, but a dedication to flexibility and consistent communication outside of virtual meetings have both been boons in overcoming the challenge.

Such benefits, too, were why Callahan, Vanga and George were eager to join the Protein Industries Canada team.

“Initially, I was skeptical about joining a new organization to work remotely … But I think within a couple of weeks, I felt great because of how welcoming the whole team was and the culture within the organization,” Vanga said, adding that the staff’s rapport about more casual topics has also helped to build relationships and solidify trust within the team.

The staff at Protein Industries Canada have come together, regardless of location, through a passion for building Canada’s plant-based food and ingredients sector. By leveraging this passion alongside their diverse regional knowledge, they’re helping connect agrifood companies across the country, helping make Canada a leader in the global plant-based market.