Protein Industries Canada invests US$1.5M in plant-based seafood
16 Jun 2021 --- Protein Industries Canada has launched a project with New School Foods and Liven Proteins to develop plant-based seafood products.
A total of CA$1.9 million (US$1.558 million) has been committed to the project, with Protein Industries Canada co-investing half of the funds and New School Foods and Liven together investing the remaining half.
The project will focus on developing a whole muscle, plant-based fish filet that emulates the same texture, taste and cooking experience of fish, creating a product that appeals to the mass-market consumer.
This co-investment will allow New School Foods to expand its R&D efforts by partnering with other universities and private laboratories, allowing them to achieve their product development goals.
The project will also accelerate Liven’s development of protein ingredients through its precision fermentation platform and enable Liven to bring these ingredients to the marketplace.
Liven will contribute their novel specialty protein ingredients to the project to enhance the sensory and cooking experience of the plant-based seafood products.
“Canadians can look forward to seeing new foods developed and produced in the country. This kind of innovation demonstrates the endless potential for harnessing Canadian crops in new ways to create good jobs and new economic opportunities in communities across Canada,” says François-Philippe Champagne, minister of innovation, science and industry.
According to Iqra Khalid, Member of Parliament for Mississauga, residents want more choices to protect the environment and grow the economy.
“These plant-based seafood solutions will create opportunities for local farmers, reduce overfishing, push forward our net-zero goals, and build Canada’s global reputation as a center for sustainable innovation,” she notes.
Mimicking real fish
The partners will test Liven’s fermentation-based, animal-free proteins in combination with other plant-based proteins, including Canadian-sourced pea, canola and fava protein.
While canned and stick-form plant-based fish varieties are available in retail locations across Canada, plant-based fish products are not yet available as a whole muscle, unbreaded filet, nor do they offer a texture that is as flaky as fish.
This would provide consumers with new sustainable meat alternative options that more accurately mirror actual seafood.
“Among the top demands from Canadian consumers are choice, great taste and appealing texture in plant-based food products,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel says.
“New School Foods and Liven are developing seafood alternatives that deliver on all three, while their fish-alternative filets will create a new market opportunity for Canada’s plant-based food sector as a whole. It’s a true representation of the leadership our sector is capable of on a global scale.”
According to Chris Bryson, New School Foods founder, this is an ambitious project.
“This co-investment is entirely focused on R&D, enabling us to accelerate our mission of creating plant-based products with a global impact,” he notes.
This project is Protein Industries Canada’s 20th under their Technology program and their 21st overall. Together with industry, they have invested more than CA$377 million (US$276 million) in the Canadian plant-based food, feed and ingredients sector.
They are currently seeking Expressions of Interest for short-cycle projects under their Technology program stream, focusing on commercialization and near-term market potential.
Emergence of catch-free
Players across industry are teaming up to develop the ideal color, flavor, texture and nutritional profile for seafood alternatives.
Earlier this month, cell-cultured seafood pioneer Finless Foods expanded its product portfolio to include a plant-based tuna offering.
Moreover, cell-cultured seafood is poised for “significant growth” in Asia.
Last April, BlueNalu – specializing in a variety of seafood products directly from fish cells – teamed up with Thai Union and Mitsubishi Corporation to accelerate a market development strategy for the novel food variety in the region.
In January, European plant-protein player Schouten Europe introduced TuNo, a fully vegetable-based tuna product with replicated textures and flavor.
Nestlé also launched its plant-based tuna alternative known as Vuna last August.
Meanwhile, Givaudan tipped plant-based fish as “the next big thing” in alternative proteins last September.
Edited by Elizabeth Green
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