Canada growing exports of plant-based protein

  • National Newswatch

Nearly 2 million tonnes of lentils exported in 2023

Ottawa-Increased production of plant-based protein can boost agriculture as well as processing and food manufacturing in Canada, says Leah Taylor Roy, Liberal MP for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill.

Additional federal funding of more than $11 million announced for Pulse Canada will help boost plant-based protein production in Canada, she told the Commons agriculture committee.

“I believe it gives us a way to grow our incredible agricultural sector and create wealth, but also lessen the impact of emissions on global food systems and help secure our food chain, bringing more processing and manufacturing back home.

“In addition to being able to export pulses and crops, there's also the opportunity for us to increase agri-food manufacturing in Canada. This is because a lot of goods are exported and then we import the finished products to use in some of the plant-based proteins. There is a shift globally in our consumption in the energy sector, and it's also happening in the agriculture sector with more plant-based proteins,” she said.

The government should look at investing in more manufacturing and food processing “so that we can take these crops and get the value added here in Canada.”

Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay said plant-based protein is a big export commodity. “We will continue to work on that and on the pulse side of the issues.”

Last year Canada exported nearly 2 million tonnes of lentils, valued at $2.3 billion, he said. “It's all part of agriculture and it's all part of feeding the world. It's all part of sustainable food production too, so it is vitally important.”

India is the biggest customer and production has increased enabling additional exports in recent years. “The pulse sector is so vitally important, and there's such a big demand for it worldwide. I can assure you that we will continue to invest in this area.”

Crushing canola was not being done in Canada until a few years ago and “now we're doing substantially more and need to do a lot more. No matter what sector of agriculture it is, it needs investment to expand, which we are doing.”

Other parts of the world are doing exactly what Canada is “so there's a continual push to make sure that we can feed the world with what they want. That's why plant-based food is so vitally important. That's also why it's so important that we help take care of the pulse industry—we don't take care of it; the farmers do—and make sure we give them the opportunity to expand and to process everything they possibly can,” MacAulay said.

Adding value to our products means “the money stays in this country instead of going to other countries. I'm sure other countries are doing that too, but we need to do more of it.”

This news item prepared for National Newswatch