Seed World

Why the Push is on to Modernize Canada’s Plant-Based Products Ecosystem

Canada’s plant-based food and ingredients sector is evolving as it grows to meet the increasing global demand for protein.

To ensure that evolution is matched by a modern and supportive regulatory system, Protein Industries Canada is partnering with Pulse Canada, Plant-Based Foods of Canada and Loblaw Companies Limited to examine Canadian regulations related to the plant-based foods and ingredients sector to support regulatory modernization.

Using consumer surveys, lab experiments and regulatory experiments, the partners will engage with government to prioritize consumer health and safety while addressing knowledge gaps to help inform regulatory modernization in the following four areas:

  • Protein labelling claims (e.g. determining whether a food is considered a “good source of protein”);
  • Naming conventions around plant-based foods (e.g., how and when companies can use words such as “plant-based cheese,” “sausage” or “patties”);
  • Discretionary fortification of simulated plant-based meat and poultry products on nutrient intake; and
  • Development of in vitro methods to evaluate protein digestibility.

“As more Canadians become interested in what’s in the food they eat, it’s important that food labels and nutrition information be easy to understand,” explained the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

“This partnership will support the modernization of regulations regarding labelling and naming, as well as provide companies with insight on how they can market their products using language consumers will recognize.”

“The Government of Canada is committed to pursuing a transparent and more responsive regulatory system to support innovation and economic growth. These efforts will help generate the data and evidence needed to help food manufacturers communicate with their consumers, and will help position the sector to capture emerging opportunities in plant-based foods,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

In addition to their direct work on regulations, the partners will establish a virtual Regulatory Centre of Excellence, creating a central point of contact for businesses in the sector looking for information about regulations affecting their operations. This Centre will conduct activities such as providing resources and funding to SMEs seeking regulatory approvals, investing in studies directed toward regulatory change, and creating a repository of regulatory knowledge and experience.

“Canada has, deservedly, a strong and positive reputation for our high-quality food health and safety standards, thanks in large part to our regulatory system. With the support of modernized regulations, businesses across Canada’s plant-based products sector can better take hold of the opportunity ahead of them,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said.

“Modernized regulations that support innovation not only support the businesses that already call Canada home, they also help attract new companies, further strengthening our global advantage while protecting and prioritizing the health of Canadians.”

The combination of modernizing regulations and establishing the Regulatory Centre of Excellence will help companies across Canada’s plant-based foods and ingredients sector compete in the global market. Additionally, clearer labels and nutrition information will help consumers better understand what’s in their food and the health and sustainability benefits that accompany it.

“This suite of experiments aims to address some of the outstanding knowledge gaps around current regulations, but also expedite the required innovation that directly aligns with industry needs in the area of protein labelling. These projects will help to provide a clearer pathway for regulatory modernization in Canada, with consideration given to Canada’s food landscape and literacy,” Pulse Canada President Greg Cherewyk said.

“At Plant-Based Foods of Canada we understand the need to balance health and safety with contemporary eating patterns,” says Leslie Ewing, Executive Director Plant-Based Foods of Canada. “The current legislative requirements impacting plant-based foods however are outdated, and have not kept pace with innovation, technology, consumer demands and a global marketplace. With modernized regulations, that support innovation and growth within the category, the industry can bring more choice for Canadians.”

“Our goal when developing products is to provide customers with choice up and down our aisles. Today, we’re seeing more and more demand for plant-based options, as customers are searching for meat and dairy alternatives that taste great,” says Kathlyne Ross, Vice President of Product Development and Innovation at Loblaw Companies Limited.

“We want to be part of the group that’s leading the way when it comes to plant-based and we’re proud to collaborate on impactful elements as we grow this industry.”

This is Protein Industries Canada’s 38th project announcement, and the 11th under their capacity building stream. A total of $1.6 million is being invested into the project; together with industry, Protein Industries Canada has committed more than $451 million to Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredients ecosystem.

For more on this topic:

Alternative Protein Growth is Skyrocketing. Are You Ready for it?

Players in the Protein Space are Moving Ahead to Make Lupin a Staple Crop