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article imageCanada's Supercluster plan includes plant-based protein farmers

By Karen Graham     Feb 25, 2018 in Food
Prairie farmers in Canada who grow rather than raise protein sources are poised to break into the mainstream with new research and investment opportunities - made available through the government's Supercluster Initiative.
Plant-based proteins, or pulses, like peas, chickpeas, lentils, and beans, are an important source of food proteins. The protein content of most pulses falls within the range of 17 to 30 percent based on dry weight.
The need for investment in research and development in plant-based proteins instead of animal proteins has become increasingly important as the global population continues its rapid growth and more consumers think about their health and the environment, said Pulse Canada CEO Gordon Bacon.
"Consumers are looking for better nutrition in the foods they buy, they are looking to protect their health."
Canadian farmers are on track to be at the forefront of some of the world's top producers of protein-rich plants with a growing network of producers and the backing of a new government-funded incubator to support them, reports CTV News Canada.
The Qu Appelle Valley with a field of Canola  late summer  Southern Saskatchewan.
The Qu'Appelle Valley with a field of Canola, late summer, Southern Saskatchewan.
Kjfmartin (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The plant-based protein industry got a big boost earlier this month when an alliance of 120 companies and organizations with a focus on developing plant-based proteins won a spot in the federal government's $950 million Innovation Superclusters Initiative.
Frank Hart, the chair of the Protein Industries Canada group that put together the supercluster bid said the investment comes about as the $13 billion global plant-protein market is expected to grow by as much as 98 percent by 2050, "It's a market that's expected to expand in a significant way."
Hart also said the approximately $180 million in government funding will help anchor the $400 million or so in spending commitments across the prairies from the private sector. The funding will support research into everything from improved farming methods, to new food possibilities for flax, hemp, oats, and pulses.
The Innovation Superclusters Initiative
The supercluster program is a first for Canada and is a significant commitment to partnering with industry and supporting the success of domestic and global companies that choose to innovate in Canada. The application process required proposals that built on shared private sector commitment—demonstrated through matched industry funding.
Canada is the largest export producer of lentils in the world  and Saskatchewan is the most importan...
Canada is the largest export producer of lentils in the world, and Saskatchewan is the most important producing region in Canada (growing 99 percent of Canadian lentils).
User: Justinc
Five superclusters were created that include:
Digital Technology Supercluster
Protein Industries Supercluster
Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster
AI-Powered Supply Chains Supercluster (SCALE.AI)
Ocean Supercluster
The plant-based protein supercluster is centered in the Prairie provinces and will focus on Agri-food enabling technologies, including genomics, processing, and information technology (IT). Dan Prefontaine, president of the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre Inc., which develops new kinds of foods points out that much of the research is being driven by the demand for more protein sources.
"I was born on meat and potatoes, and my kids are born more on diversity. They're getting protein from multiple sources." A Nielson survey released last fall showing 43 percent of Canadians are actively trying to incorporate more plant-based proteins into their diet.
Prefontaine said the supercluster investment will help to make Canada a major player. "This is just the start. This is really giving Western Canada the opportunity to pool our resources to really create an environment and an equal system that promotes innovation and growth."
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