This week delegates from around the world took part in the first Plant Forward conference in Toronto.

The event was organized by Protein Industries Canada, Pulse Canada and Plant-Based Foods of Canada.

Bill Gruel, CEO of Protein Industries Canada says they welcomed 250 delegates, with 11 countries with participants involved in ingredient manufacturing and the creation of plant based foods.

"We had over 50 delegates from other countries. The largest was a delegation from the Netherlands. Interesting because the Netherlands is a very small country, it's about the size of Banff National Park, but they're the second largest food economy in the world. So they're really looking at Canada as a strategic partner in terms of ingredient supply and innovation."

International visitors included a large contingent of companies, finance and capital community from the United States, a large delegation from India, as well as a number of other countries.

Gruel says many of the international guests were interested in collaborating with Canadian ingredient manufacturers.

"Take the Netherlands, for instance, they have a very small land base, but a large amount of food processing. What they're interested in is strategic partnerships with our ingredient manufacturers. So they can import high quality Canadian ingredients for use in their food manufacturing, facilities and plants, because they don't have access to commodities and crops that they grow internally. Overall, if you look at Europe, they're suffering quite a large protein deficit across human food consumption and animal feed. They import 27 million metric tons of protein on an annual basis. And if you look at the upheaval that's happening on a global scale, Russia's war in Ukraine, some of the issues and challenges in China, importing from Brazil, they're really looking to Canada as a strategic partner for

Protein Industries Canada is expected to be recapitalized for another five years, with the next iteration of the program likely being announced in early February. 

Gruel adds they're looking at collaborative innovation between ingredient manufacturers here on the prairies, and food companies on a global basis. 

You can hear Glenda-Lee's conversation with Bill Gruel the CEO of Protein Industries Canada by clicking the link below.