New partnership to advance fermentation processing in Western Canada

Fermentation training program and infrastructure will strengthen Canada’s plant-based ingredient and food ecosystem

Regina, Saskatchewan, CANADA

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan, Nov. 23, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, Protein Industries Canada announced a new project to strengthen the use and understanding of fermentation processing technology in ingredient and food processing.

The Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre (Food Centre), the University of Saskatchewan, the Global Agri-Food Advancement Partnership (GAAP) and Ag-West Bio are combining expertise to create a new fermentation and training program at the Food Centre. The project will build capacity in Canada’s plant-based ingredient and food ecosystem by marrying the addition of new technology with a skills development and training program.

“Protein Industries Canada continues to create new possibilities for Canadian crops,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “By bringing together key players, this project will help find new ways to produce premium healthy and sustainable food products and provide good jobs for people across Canada.”

“Today’s announcement will develop and leverage emerging fermentation technology to produce novel plant-based ingredients, food, and feed products for Canadians and international markets. Building the fermentation ecosystem starts with attracting and training the right talent for Canada’s small- and medium-sized plant-based food and beverage sector. This project will increase capacity to utilize fermentation technology, commercialize opportunities, and create higher paying jobs,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

The addition of fermentation technology and expertise will allow for new plant-based ingredients and food products to be created and commercialized, supporting the growth of Canada’s value-added food sector. The expansion of fermentation processing technology is an emerging opportunity for Canada. This method of processing can help the country’s plant-based food, feed and ingredient sector increase its competitive edge in the global market and attract new talent — as it’s considered more sustainable and offers a higher profit margin than many processing methods previously used by the sector.

The program will support collaborative innovation, expertise and skill development between small- and medium-sized enterprises and the consortium, enabling the commercialization of new technology while attracting and fostering a pipeline of future talent for Canada’s plant-based ingredient and food ecosystem.

“Increasing the availability of emerging technologies, while recruiting and training future experts, is key to driving innovation in Canada’s plant-based food and ingredient sector. In order to advance our sector and reach $25 billion in sales by 2035, we need to both invest in collaborative R&D projects and build capacity within the ecosystem,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said. “This project is a great example of how working collaboratively across the ecosystem can support the growth of the sector. Increased access to fermentation processing technology guarantees our innovative companies are creating new products that meet ever-growing consumer demand, while ensuring a strong labour force is in place to support the growing ecosystem.”

A total of $1.3 million will be invested into the project. The project partners are together investing $600,000, with Protein Industries Canada investing the remaining $700,000.

“The Food Centre is excited to collaborate with our partners to grow capacity in fermentation technology,” Food Centre President Dan Prefontaine said. “This project will provide new opportunities to develop innovative products from proof of concept to commercialization and further our creation of new expertise in innovative processing for ingredients. It will help to support our protein sector to build industry expertise to transform plant-based material from western Canadian proteins, starches and fibres using fermentation.”

“This timely collaboration will provide a fertile training environment for the next generation of researcher experts along with a highly qualified workforce for advancing Canada’s competitiveness in fermentation processing technology, and in particular, of fermented plant-based foods,” University of Saskatchewan Professor and Department Head of Food and Bioproduct Sciences Darren Krober said. “The Food Centre has a history of working with small and large food producers to help in their product development and market-readiness challenges, and expanding capacity in the fermented plant-based food sector will help companies take advantage of what appears to be the next big consumer trend.”

“GAAP is happy to be part of this collaboration,” interim President and CEO of the Global Agri-Food Advancement Partnership Jay Robinson said. “Each partner brings its own unique capabilities to the ecosystem. This type of collaboration is exactly what this industry needs.”

“Advanced technology is the key to dealing with global challenges,” Ag-West Bio President and CEO Karen Churchill said. “Having both the technology and the expertise gives Saskatchewan an advantage. We are thrilled to be part of this initiative.”

This is Protein Industries Canada’s 27th project announcement, and the fifth under its capacity building stream. Together with industry, Protein Industries Canada has invested more than $425 million to Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredients ecosystem.

Media may contact:

Miranda Burski
Protein Industries Canada
Regina, SK


About the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre

The Food Centre is a recognized globally as a key innovator in the food industry. The Centre works with local and international clients in ideation, prototyping and manufacturing of new food and beverage products, specializing in the utilization of plant-based protein. Our combined expertise in product development, novel ingredient validation and application and extrusion processing can transform plant proteins to innovative commercial products.

About the University of Saskatchewan

The University of Saskatchewan is one of the top research-intensive, medical doctoral universities in Canada, and is home to world-leading research in areas of global importance, such as water and food security and infectious diseases. Study and discovery are enhanced by their facilities, including the Canadian Light Source synchrotron, VIDO-InterVac, the Global Institute for Food Security, the Global Institute for Water Security and the Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation.

About the Global Agri-Food Advancement Partnership (GAAP)

The Global Agri-Food Partnership (GAAP) is a new entity resulting from collaboration between Ag-West Bio, the Global Institute of Food Security, the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre, Innovation Place and private sector partners. GAAP was created to support early- and rapid-growth-stage companies within all areas of agriculture and food. GAAP combines the benefits of significant investment capital and long-term incubation in a world-class facility (up to three years, with access to laboratories, greenhouses and offices) with guidance and training from sector-specific experts.

About Ag-West Bio

Ag-West Bio is Saskatchewan's bioscience industry association. A catalyst for industry growth, the company’s goal is to move research to market and grow biobusiness in the province. Ag-West Bio supports commercialization of technologies in the areas of sustainable crop production, value-added food processing, health, environment and bioproducts. The company aids strategic alliances, provides support for early-stage businesses, disseminates industry information, and hosts events to create connections and build community. Ag-West Bio is a not-for-profit, member-based organization. Funding is provided by the Government of Canada and Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture through the Canadian Agriculture Partnership (CAP).

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

A graphic containing logos, a photo of a woman working in a lab, and text about advancing fermentation processing.