food supply

Industry and academia team up to secure Canada’s food supply

Canada’s leading food and beverage processing associations have come together to invest in a first-of-its-kind national food supply chain platform.

Protein Industries Canada has announced the Food Convergence Innovation (FCI) Canada – Food and Beverage Supply Chain Project.

The FCI-Canada Project focuses on creating a national, sector-wide platform with enterprise-to-enterprise connectivity capabilities, which will help strengthen Canada’s domestic food supply chain.

Linking food and beverage companies across the country, the project will make it easier to recover from COVID-19 and other emerging issues, as well as diversify Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredients offerings through collaborative partnerships.

Canada’s leading food and beverage associations will build provincial and regional databases that will then be connected into a national network. This project builds on Conseil de la Transformation Alimentaire du Québec (CTAQ)’s existing Systeme Numerique Alimentaire Collaboratif (SNAC) collaboration platform, developed by Bivizio and currently in use in Quebec, as well as data science work conducted at the University of Ottawa.

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In its evolution to FCI-Canada, the national platform will help companies from across Canada make connections across the value chain by allowing them to post and search for specific products, services and partners within given geographic parameters. The FCI-Canada platform will also evolve to be responsive to supply chain disruptions such as those associated with COVID-19. Expanding its functionality across the country will mean better responsiveness across the national supply chain and will help ensure the security of Canada’s food system.

“Canada is at the forefront of agricultural innovation, and to stay ahead of the curve we must continue to invest and collaborate. The Protein Industries Supercluster launched by our Government in 2018 has been a made-in-Canada success story of dynamic new partnerships and innovations in agriculture. This project is yet another example of how the Protein Industries Supercluster is creating exciting new opportunities for producers and agri-food entrepreneurs that respond to emerging consumer demands,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

The FCI-Canada Project will be led by McGill Centre for the Convergence of Health and Economics with a national consortium of Food and Beverage Canada, CTAQ, Food & Beverage Atlantic, Food and Beverage Ontario, Food & Beverage Manitoba, BC Food & Beverage, Bivizio, and the University of Ottawa. These organizations are together investing $500,000 into the project, with Protein Industries Canada investing $2.1 million, for a total project value of $2.7 million.

The platform will help the Canadian plant-based food, feed and ingredients sector improve its international competitiveness by allowing companies to respond collaboratively and more easily to shifts in consumer demand. This will lead to the development of new plant-based protein ingredients and products, providing consumers around the world with more choices that align with their values, lifestyles and nutrition needs.

“We believe this project demonstrates the value of Canadian industry partners working together toward a common goal – ensuring the strength and the resilience of Canada’s food sector,” Food and Beverage Canada CEO Kathleen Sullivan said. “This platform, which will serve the interests of Canada’s food and beverage manufacturing sector from coast to coast, confirms the value of the provincial associations forming Food and Beverage Canada.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic did more than reveal weaknesses in our healthcare system, it also exposed the fragility of Canada’s ability to feed itself,” McGill Vice-Principal of Research and Innovation Martha Crago said. “This project demonstrates the value of academia working together and with industry to impact a precious, but all too often taken for granted, resource: the food we eat.”

The project marks Protein Industries Canada’s third project through its capacity building program, and their 25th overall. Together with the industry, Protein Industries Canada has committed more than $377 million to the Canadian plant-based food, feed and ingredients sector.