Many opportunities between the Netherlands and Canada in the Protein Sector
- Recent plant protein webinar was a success, with high level speakers from Dutch and Canadian government and industry;
- Several areas identified for further Dutch-Canadian collaboration, such as R&D, supply chains, and sourcing of proteins;
- Complementary strengths identified, and can lead to strategic partnerships: e.g. Dutch expertise in high quality proteins and product development, and Canadian expertise in pulses and large volume protein processing.
Largest agricultural exporters
Her Excellency Lisa Helfand, Ambassador of Canada to the Netherlands, and Frank Hart, Board Chair for Protein Industries Canada (PIC), opened the webinar by mentioning the many great opportunities that lie ahead when the Netherlands and Canada, two of the largest agricultural exporters in the world, continue to work together to address food security and reduce the global footprint.
Henk Snoeken, Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Vancouver, emphasized the innovative position of the Netherlands which, despite beinga small country about the size of Vancouver Island, possesses more than 5.000 agrifood companies. The Netherlands is innovative, ranks high in value-added products, has a strong supply chain, and also serves as an important European distribution hub.
Connecting Dutch and Canadian companies
Diederik Beutener, Trade Commissioner at the Embassy of Canada to the Netherlands, discussed how the embassy can assist Canadian companies in doing business in the Netherlands, and vice versa. He placed special emphasis on the collaboration with the Holland International Distribution Council (HIDC), and the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency, which help companies streamline their logistical processes and solve any practical issues. He also highlighted four different cases that illustrate how Canadian companies have successfully entered the Dutch market and, subsequently, the European market.
Connecting with the Canadian industry
Bill Greuel, CEO of Protein Industries Canada (PIC), discussed Canada’s vision to be a world leader in plant protein. With 28 million hectares of arable land, Canada is a plant protein powerhouse. It is the largest pulse exporter in the world, the largest producer and exporter of canola, and has world-leading plant science and agricultural capabilities.
PIC is in the middle of an ambitious program to transform the industry. Together with industry partners, CAD $300 million will be invested in the next four years. These investments will be focused on:
- technology development throughout the whole value chain;
- capacity building in the sector.
With practical examples Mr. Greuel showed the recent investments made, ranging between CAD$10-$20 million, in which innovation and cooperation between companies has been stimulated. Foreign companies are also encouraged to work with Canadian partners.
Given the complimentary agrifood strengths in Canada and the Netherlands, a close partnership makes sense. Both countries have robust R&D ecosystems, and specialized expertise can be enhanced in both countries to reach value chain synergies.
Connecting with the Dutch industry
Jeroen Willemsen, Protein Shift Innovation Manager from The Protein Cluster (TPC) in the Netherlands, represents 54 protein companies. TPC helps companies with innovation in the plant protein sector through the provision of new technology, new ingredients, and new products. TPC contributes to a more sustainable protein production and consumption ecosystem in the Netherlands and abroad.
Dutch innovation at TPC is taking place in the areas of valorization, local production, ecosystem, novel production and value creation. Mr. Willemsen referred to recent innovations in the Dutch plant protein ecosystem, such as valorization through isolation of proteins from the leaves of sugar beets, the growing of Dutch edamame, the branding of Dutch soy, and value creation of plant proteins by companies such as Beyond Meat. The strategy of TPC in the Netherlands focuses on three themes:
- Production/ Cultivation of protein rich crops;
- Development of innovative protein sources;
- Protein production by means of side stream valorization.
According to Mr. Willemsen, there is a necessity to cooperate and accelerate this sector together, especially in light of the current COVID-19 circumstances, when countries are focusing on becoming more self-sufficient in their respective food sectors. The Netherlands aims to work together with Canada to bridge the gap between demand and supply of plant protein, and revalue the power of plant protein. Mr. Willemsen believes the Dutch supply chain is strong but the small surface of land/acres in the Netherlands is a limiting factor. Collaboration between Canada and the Netherlands for the sourcing of proteins can accelerate the global market for plant based proteins.
Partners in Protein Industry
This Protein Webinar underlined the need and opportunities for Dutch and Canadian parties to work together. The Netherlands can contribute to Canada’s industry with precision protein and product development, whereas Canada can contribute to the Dutch industry in terms of sourcing and delivering ingredients. Both countries can develop technological plant protein innovations together, and advance the protein sector as a whole.