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Increasing Canada's competitiveness in the global agriculture market

Partnership expanding work on National Index on Agri-Food Performance
Pulse crop
Index will shine a spotlight on the sustainable practices being used in the industry, while also helping address where improvements can be made.

WINNIPEG – Protein Industries Canada has announced a co-investment into the second phase of Canada’s National Index on Agri-Food Performance, alongside lead partners Pulse Canada and the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) at the University of Saskatchewan, with the support of David McInnes, co-ordinator of the National Index on Agri-Food Performance.

The National Index on Agri-Food Performance is focused on developing a set of sustainability indicators and metrics related to Canada’s agriculture and agrifood industries, which will help increase Canada’s competitiveness in the global market. The index will shine a spotlight on the sustainable practices being used in the industry, while also helping address where improvements can be made.

“As Canadians and consumers seek food that has been produced and processed sustainably to put on their tables, Canada has everything needed to become a significant global leader,” explained the Honourable Franc╠žois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “And through the creation of a National Index on Agri-Food Performance, we will ensure even more domestic and international opportunities for our sustainable, Canadian crops.”

“Innovation is key to the agricultural sector’s competitive advantage and long-term economic prosperity in Canada. With the ability to measure our sustainability efforts through the National Index on Agri-Food Performance, we will strengthen Canada’s reputation and competitiveness as a supplier of high-quality food products into the future,” said the Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

In addition to Protein Industries Canada, Pulse Canada and GIFS, more than 75 organizations spanning the food system are collaborating to advance this work. This includes diverse representation not only from the agriculture and agrifood industry, but also from adjacent sectors such as financial services, innovation organizations, environmental NGOs and federal and provincial governments.

“Canada has a reputation for sustainable production and processing practices. Having a set of metrics and indicators that measures these practices on a consolidated basis across the agriculture and agrifood sector will allow us to further back up our sustainability claims, strengthening Canada’s reputation and global brand and increasing trust in our products,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said.

“The ability to measure our sustainability efforts will help increase our competitiveness in the global market, particularly as we work to become a global leader in the production of plant-based ingredients and foods. Sustainability is an important distinguisher in this market, and this project will help further establish Canada as a leader in the area.”

Creating Canada’s first agrifood sustainability index involves tailoring a suite of globally recognized indicators that meet the needs of Canada’s agrifood context. The project also includes developing a series of papers to inform the index and policy implications. These actions will help present Canada’s sustainability credentials for the sector as a whole, including the plant-based foods and ingredients sector, improving Canada’s ability to meet the growing global demand for healthy, sustainable plant- based foods and ingredients, according to a USask press release.

A total of $659,000 has been committed to this phase of the project, with Protein Industries Canada committing $626,000. Project partners are committing the remainder and providing in-kind support.

“The world needs more of Canada’s vision for modern, sustainable agriculture,” Pulse Canada president Greg Cherewyk said. “This project gives Canadian farmers and the entire value chain the tools they need to quantify their sustainability performance through real data, ensuring the market is appropriately compensating our industry for the positive impact it has on the environment.”

“We know that Canada is one of the largest and most sustainable producers of food; however, we don’t have all the metrics to prove it or to even improve upon it,” GIFS Chief Executive Officer Steven Webb said.

“This project that is a result of the National Index on Agri-Food Performance partnership will give us the data and the transparent process to measure how well we are doing on the sustainable production and processing of food, and give consumers at home and abroad the added and justifiable confidence in our agrifood sector.”

“Developing Canada’s first agrifood sustainability index should become the country’s signature response for a society and marketplace that increasingly values transparency and accountability for how food is produced, processed and sold,” said David McInnes, co-ordinator of the index project. “The partners want Canada to be known here and abroad as the trusted source of food.”