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Over the recent years, Canada’s food supply chain has experienced major turbulence. From stalled production to lack of supplies, the uncertainty associated with the food supply chain has resulted in heightened prices, empty shelves, and tribulation in Canadian households. With continuous world-wide challenges, the issues within the Canadian food supply chain persist alongside riveting inflation and a lack of alleviation, illustrating the need for innovative solutions in this sector.
Ever since the global health crisis, Canadian grocery stores and dining establishments have not been the same. In a matter of months, Canadians went from overstocking to limited supplies to no supplies at all. And, with the lack of supplies and restrictions associated with food production, the financial pressures amongst Canadians increased.
Although food trade policies, stalled food production, and global disruption may come to mind as the main cause of this issue, it is also important to consider Canada’s lack of in-house food production as a contributor to the issue. Due to its geography and climate, Canada can be at a disadvantage with regards to food production. Although some foods are able to thrive in Canadian soil, the majority of the products found in Canadian grocery stores are imported. For this reason, scientists have begun research and development activities in the food production sector.
With food importation fees and lack of supplies hiking up food bills, it is important for the Canadian government to invest into research & development (R&D) activities in the food sector and develop a plan to address the needs of its country, and ultimately become self-sufficient. The goal of innovation in this sector would be to cut down food mileage, food costs, and improve sustainability.
Plant-based food innovations have begun to surface in the labs of Canadian universities. Beginning with the creation of lab grown beef alternatives, a stream of plant-based innovations that highly resemble the sought-out qualities attributed to animal-based products, such as the tenderness of cuts of meat and the stringy-ness and melting point of cheese, have followed. R&D activities are currently taking place in Canadian universities with yeast cells, algae, and other microbes to provide plant-based alternatives for several animal products.
With access to new technology and innovative practices, researchers at Canadian universities have begun the process of developing lab-made animal products, including a lab-made steak.
New developments in technology have enabled scientists to better control the fat and protein content of their lab-grown meat, leading scientists one step closer to revolutionizing the way Canadians obtain their food. It is through these innovations, that Canadians, regardless of their dietary practices, could gain access to more sustainable, cruelty-free food that is closer to home.
But, a lab-grown steak is just the beginning…
As innovations continue to spark in the food engineering sector, scientists predict that several types of animal and plant-based foods will emerge from Canadian labs in the coming years. From spices to tropical flavourings to proteins, Canadians may begin to notice more food products, carrying the “Made in Canada” label, hitting the shelves. As innovation progresses in this sector, Canadians may no longer need to heavily rely on food importation and can move forward towards their goal of becoming self-sufficient and provide some relief for Canadians.
Aside from lab-made food production, other innovations within the food sector may be beneficial to address this issue. Some have suggested digitization, adopting automation technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI), as well as blockchain to improve the food supply chain.
Overall, the food industry has the capacity to create a food supply chain that is able to meet the needs of Canadians effectively and efficiently. It is through innovation that the food supply chain can become resilient to the present and future disruptions. Whether it be through the adoption of innovative technology and processes or through the creation of food in a laboratory, the future of the food supply chain in Canada lies within innovation.
With increasing concerns about the food supply chain, innovation in this sector is in high demand.