Canada is investing in plant-based food. | Zoe Schaeffer via Unsplash

The Canadian Government has announced more than $2.6 million in federal funding for the plant protein sector.

Leduc, Alberta’s Food Processing Development Centre will receive the investment. It will go toward new equipment for plant-based product development. The Canadian Prairies are ideal for producing a number of high-protein pulse crops, including lentils, chickpeas, and peas. The western provinces are on their way to becoming a hub for “pulse fractionation,” a relatively new process that extracts protein for use in food products, including plant-based meat.

The intention is to support the agri-food industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The investment will give farmers and producers “the tools” to be part of Canada’s economic recovery.

The government aims to encourage agri-food producers to turn these crops into higher-value ingredients, or even finished plant-based products.

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada, said in a statement: “The wellbeing of all Canadians—physically, socially, and economically—begins with a safe food supply. Western Canada’s farmers and agri-food businesses are essential to this, and we’re here for them.”

She added that the investment will secure the necessary resources for agri-food companies to develop new products. In addition to this, it will allow them to capture opportunities in the burgeoning plant-based food market. According to the National Research Council of Canada, sales of plant-based protein products increase 7 percent to $1.5 billion from 2016-2017.

“Initiatives such as this are vital to enabling our agri-food companies to scale up, support good jobs, and ultimately ensure the security of the safe, nutritious food supply we all rely on,” Joly continued.

Canada Gives Plant-Based Protein a Boost

This isn’t the first time the Canadian Government has given the plant-based food sector a boost.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced earlier this year that the government would invest $100 million in Merit Functional Foods. Based in Winnipeg, the company specializes in plant-based protein.

Merit will use the investment to build a commercial-scale protein production plant. The factory will be capable of utilizing 10,000 metric tonnes of yellow peas when it is fully operational.

Trudeau said in a statement: “As people around the world start eating more plant-based products, we have an opportunity to bring together Candian innovation and Canadian crops, and a chance to create good, well-paying jobs.