WINNIPEG, Manitoba, April 16, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today, Protein Industries Canada announced the launch of the second phase of a partnership that will improve traceability and marketing opportunities by creating a platform for Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredient sector. A $17.1 million co-investment has been committed to the project, with Protein Industries Canada providing 50 per cent and Farmers Edge, OPIsystems and TrustBIX providing investments of $6 million, $2.2 million and $334,000 respectively.
Each partners’ expertise will intersect to enhance production practices and storage and marketing decisions, increasing returns and creating a reliable food supply to feed the growing population. Farmers Edge provides the field-level analysis and advanced predictive modeling; OPIsystems’ technology helps producers dry, condition and store grain in ways that optimize quality while reducing energy consumption and spoilage losses; and TrustBIX provides blockchain connectivity between the partners to verify traceability for grain marketing.
“The Protein Industries Supercluster is helping innovators, researchers and game changers in the agricultural sector turn bold ideas into global opportunities through better access to experience and expertise. This project led by Farmers Edge, a Winnipeg-based business, is a great example of how data science and advanced technology such as artificial intelligence is helping to improve the production and quality of Canadian protein crops,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.
“Canadian producers and processors continue to adopt innovative approaches and tools to ensure they can supply Canada and the world with their high-quality products. This partnership will help the sector to make even bigger technological advances. Thanks to Protein Industries Canada and Winnipeg’s Farmers Edge, this partnership will improve the efficiency, sustainability and competitiveness of our agricultural output across the country,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food.
In this phase, the partners will leverage the power of connected field sensors, artificial intelligence and big data analytics to create a high-tech solution to enhance predictive modeling, digital traceability, and connectivity within the agri-food supply chain.
“Improving the competitiveness of Canada’s plant-based foods sector includes demonstrating our sustainability efforts and producing our crops in a way that meets our customers’ needs—whether that be domestic or international ingredients and food processors,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said. “Farmers Edge, OPIsystems, and TrustBIX are developing a program that not only helps accomplish that but also connects processors and other buyers directly with the Canadian producers who can provide them with the feedstocks that meet their exact specifications. This is the sort of technology our sector needs—that which meets the needs of every step of our value chain while improving traceability and sustainability to better meet customer expectations.”
The platform’s marketing element will build on traceability work with the Standards Council of Canada, focusing on matching buyers to producers, executing contracts, and searching out or monitoring regulatory and other standards. The transparency of this process presents the potential for new market opportunities while also providing buyers and consumers with assurance that their food was produced in a way that meets regulatory standards and best aligns with their values. The fully digitized, streamlined process makes it easy for producers to participate in the program and access higher-value global markets, which leads to increased farm income here in Canada.
“We look forward to continuing this important work with our partners, the federal government and Protein Industries Canada, as we invest through this project to enhance our digital platform,” said Wade Barnes, founder and CEO of Farmers Edge. “Collectively, we’re seizing the opportunity to create a comprehensive program that will ensure high quality crop production and complete traceability from field to market. The opportunity to harness the Farmers Edge expertise in data and AI-driven technologies and apply it to the growers’ and consumers’ benefit is gratifying. Growers will be able to share verified crop records with a simple click, and consumers will gain transparency on the origin of their food, enhancing their level of trust in farms across Canada.”
“Ongoing support from the Protein Industries Canada program greatly enhances our ability to connect post-harvest storage to the overall value-chain, from the development and production of protein-based crops, through to processing and retail,” said Dave Crompton, CEO of OPIsystems. “This program has created a unique opportunity for Canadian agriculture to lead the way in bringing commercially viable solutions that can be applied across a broad range of applications, both in Canada and abroad.”
“TrustBIX is very pleased to bring the BIX platform along with our experience in managing chain-of-custody and supply chain traceability solutions for major Canadian agri-food processors and retailers to this collaboration,” said Hubert Lau, CEO of TrustBIX. “With Farmers Edge, OPIsystems and Protein Industries Canada, we see a collaborative innovation process that will help us accelerate our diversification into the plant-based protein sector and contribute real value to our partners and the ecosystem.”
The project marks Protein Industries Canada’s 18th technology project announcement, and 19th overall. Together with industry, Protein Industries Canada has committed more than $349 million to the Canadian plant-protein sector. They are currently accepting Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for both their Technology and Capacity Building programs.