The plant-based food industry is a gold mine. A 2021 report by Ernst and Young, commissioned by Protein Industries Canada, determined that the market for plant-based foods will rise to $107 billion CDN by 2035.
And Canadians are hungry for it! There is a noticeable increase in “flexitarian” diets, particularly since the COVID19 pandemic and a shift towards more sustainable living desired amongst Canadians.
A staggering 66.22% of Canadians are also opting for dairy alternatives, with soy, oat, and almond amongst the most popular.
This is where the Jeff Bezos backed “NotCo’s”, “NotMilk” comes in – a 100% dairy-free milk, established in Chile and making its Canadian debut in British Columbia in October 2021, then Quebec and Ontario by December 2021.
According to NotCo, their milk is disrupting the industry by “embodying the dairy taste, texture and function of cow’s milk for a mind-blowing experience.”
With five animal-free products currently in the US market, NotCo is currently the only company to create the trifecta of beloved animal-based items: dairy, egg, and meat products, and have amassed an impressive valuation of USD 1.5 billion since commencing operations in 2015.
Among the ingredients of NotMilk, is peas, a common protein found in other plant-based items, too. This is good news for Canada’s potential in becoming a top plant-based producer, as Canada is one of the world’s top exporters of peas. In 2019, peas were amongst 71% of Canada’s total crop exports.
Canada’s potential is strengthened due to its market access (trade partnerships within all parties of the G7, for example), its positive food safety reputation, sustainable processes and climate action, and keen researchers and skilled workers.
However, a downfall is technology, with Canadian leaders saying the plant-based future belongs to countries and companies that work with AI, drone technology and food science to establish delicious and economic products for the market. NotCo has tapped into this idea, with a patented AI technology they’ve nicknamed “Giuseppe,” who, with an impressive algorithm, creates interesting meals or items based on real human taste buds.
Using AI expedites the creation process, is exponentially cheaper which means quicker to market, which means, of course, a fast track to revenues and sales.
With 42.3% of Canadians saying that plant-based products “taste strange,” the use of advanced AI and algorithms could be the answer to creating delicious, Canadian grown plant-based products, strengthening Canadian innovation at a national and international scale.
Prioritizing plant-based diets is a shift being promoted by many food organizations in Canada, accelerated by the need for environmental sustainability, social justice and improving general human health. Within this context, plant-based businesses are strategic opportunities to consider, regardless of if you are looking to buy or sell.