With the plant-based food market booming, Food & Consumer Products Canada is launching a division dedicated to supporting the category in Canada, advocating for plant-based food businesses and consumers.
“There has been an increase in consumption of plant-based foods as evidenced through comparative sales data and consumer purchase behaviour,” said Leslie Ewing, who will oversee Plant-Based Foods of Canada. With the market growing to match what appears to be a long-term conumer trend, PBFC was created to provide education for the industry, make it easier for consumers to get better products, and promote innovation and growth by working with the government to modernize regulations, she said.
“Current regulations are outdated and limiting innovation in this space,” said Ewing. “More specifically, current regulations have outdated standards of identity for protein as well as prescriptive compositional and labelling requirements.”
That said, Ottawa has shown clear signs of support for the plant-based sector, recommending people eat more plant-based proteins and investing $150 million in Canada’s plant protein industry through its $950 Supercluster initiative.
Founding members of Plant-Based Foods of Canada include: Daiya Foods, Danone, Earth’s Own Foods, GreenSpace Brands, Hain Celestial, Pinnacle Foods, Ripple Foods, Lightlife Foods, The Field Roast Company.
“In the next five to 10 years, we are going to see rapid growth in the interest and consumption of plant-based foods. It’s happening already,” said Beena Goldenberg, CEO of Hain Celestial Canada, in a press release. “As industry continues to move into the mainstream, it’s critical that it has a voice to accurately represent it and help shape the direction it takes for the benefit of all Canadians.”
According to research from Dalhousie University, about 9.4% of the country now identifies as vegetarian or vegan. Fifteen years ago, just 900,000 Canadians called themselves vegetarian, today it is 2.3 million, and another 850,000 people call themselves vegan.
“Consumers are looking for products that offer health and environmental benefits as well as more variety to their diet,” said Ewing. “There is a growing number of vegetarians and vegans but the real growth is coming from flexitarians; those consumers who are looking to expand their diets to include more plant-based options.”
According to Nielsen Research, 43% of Canadians are looking to add more plant-bsaed foods into their diet. Sales of plant-based protein products in Canada grew 7% to more than $1.5 billion in 2017.
Other Nielsen research in the U.S. shows that while sales for traditional plant-based options like tofu and brown rice actually dropped, meat alternatives were up 30%, cheese alternatives rose 45% and veggie noodles increased 115%.