As COVID-19 continues to dominate the news cycle and permeate every part of our lives, governments everywhere have come to realise the importance of alternative protein through issues such as food security and climate change.
In the past August, the Canadian federal government rolled out a CAD$18 million stimuli to support projects that will strengthen Canada’s food supply chain. One of the biggest single pay-outs was to the Alberta government-owned Food Processing Development Centre, which received CAD$2.6 million for equipment that will help companies develop new plant-based foods and products.
This follows a June 2020 announcement by Trudeau on a CAD$100 million investment made by the Canadian federal government into Merit Functional Foods, a Canadian company specialising in plant-based protein production. Merit Functional Foods has also received grants from other government agencies such as Farm Credit Canada and Export Development Canada.
Trudeau not only thinks that this would be an opportunity to create jobs in the ever-expanding plant-based protein industry (which is projected to dominate ⅓ of Canada’s protein market in the next five years) but also thinks this would be a great way to promote Canadian innovation and under-used Canadian crops such as canola and yellow peas. Additionally, the uncertainty of international food supply chains has incentivised the government of the day to take action to increase Canadian food production. Member of Provincial Parliament and agriculture critic John Vanthof told CBC that COVID-19 would have lasting effects on the Canadian food sector as the pandemic is happening internationally. As a result, Canada cannot rely on imports to make up for the loss of food produced locally.
The EXPRO Project, a joint initiative by State-owned nonprofit VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the University of Helsinki have recently received USD 2.3 million in funding from the public innovation fund Business Finland. The EXPRO project has had a stellar track record, with companies such as Helsinki-based Gold & Green Foods (which has had their Pulled Oats vegan meat in Taco Bell across the UK and Spain since 2019) and domestic foodservice giant Fazer as previous industry partners. The project plans to use the recent funding for creating proprietary plant-based ingredients and meat substitutes, mainly using crops native to the Nordic country such as Faba beans and rapeseed, as well as technology licensing.
The EXPRO Project aims to work with Finnish startups and companies across the plant-based supply chain in hopes of propelling Finland into becoming the leading plant-based protein provider. EXPRO project leader Nesil Sozer said in a statement that “the Finnish food industry is in a unique position to take the lead in the transition towards a more plant-based food system.”
Finland’s food revolution is not only relegated to the development of plant-based protein. Back in October 2019, the Prime Minister of Finland, Antti Rinne, proposed a tax cut for plant-based food to promote the consumption of ‘climate-friendly’ food. Rinne hopes to combine cutting transport emissions, updating energy production and making sustainable food cheaper to make Finland carbon-neutral by 2035. As Finns are consuming less meat and dairy than ever, Rinne’s dream may come true sooner than even he could realise.
The plant-based protein trend has reached the Far East, with Starbucks leading the pack. Starbucks China is introducing big names in the plant-based business such as Beyond Meat, Omnipork and Oatly into their menu. These new items have been available across all 3,300+ Starbucks locations across China since April 2020.
In fact, the plant-based movement has been gaining momentum in China. Oatly, which launched in China last year, has seen a record 636% growth in the country as the two largest dairy farms in China file for bankruptcy, showing that the plant-based trend is here to stay. With the Chinese plant-based market has seen an annual growth rate of 14.3% each year since 2014, it also shows this trend has no sign of stopping.
Being the first of its kind, Hong Kong and New York-based alternative protein venture capital fund Lever VC, who were early investors in Beyond Meat and JUST, and Asian venture accelerator firm Brinc have announced a new joint investment fund and accelerator to support plant-based meat and dairy food tech startups across China. The fund will be backed by big names such as China’s most extensive and state-owned food processing company COFCO, dairy giant Yili and national industry trade group China Plant-Based Foods Alliance.
The Lever fund will invest RMB 40 million over the next four years to entrepreneurs and startups focusing on the burgeoning mainland Chinese market, as Brinc will provide a three-month accelerator programme for interested portfolio companies at their new Guangzhou offices. This move marks the Chinese business sector’s eagerness to develop the local alternative protein market and as one of the biggest meat-eaters in the world, this will be revolutionary to the Chinese, and the meat sector of the world at large.
All in all, these three countries have shown us that the world is actively looking to change the agriculture business as we know it. We as individuals need to do our part in actively trying to reduce our meat consumption and educating ourselves on how to eat more sustainably. So while these countries might have embraced alternative protein, have you?
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