Canada’s food and beverage processors urgently need a national ecosystem Superfund for scale-up, research and innovation.
By: Peter Henderson
The request for a Superfund for food and beverage processors is not new. It was proposed before the last federal election to help support what has been reported as Canada’s largest manufacturing sector by GDP, employment and shipments. Despite early indications of “action,” the Superfund concept has largely fallen through the cracks, likely inadvertently, despite reasonable efforts by the food and beverage processing industry to inform on the structure and size requirements of such a wise investment.
As the Minister of Innovation Navdeep Bains expressed on May 29 during innovation week, transformation is impacting everyone, and “we need bold action.”
But bold commitments and bold action can’t begin without a bold understanding.
It’s important to understand why a Superfund for food and beverage processors has not evolved. Is it wrong or competing voices being heard; dysfunction within government; greater complexities due in part to the climate crisis; weak lobbying efforts? The list of questions can go on, and it should be fully explored.
The food and beverage processing industry are caught in the middle of dysfunction and global transformations, with immense pressure on margins. Food and beverage processing and related food ecosystems can be harmed disproportionately and immeasurably if Canada plays a waiting game while seeking to understand, and/or pondering the merits of making a very large strategic fund in support healthy and competitive food and beverage processing.
Canada, let’s come together to boldly ‘collaborate and innovate’ how Canada can best support food and beverage processors of all sizes: to invest in automating; scaling-up; developing the right healthy new products and environmentally responsible processes and packaging; attracting and retaining skilled labour/talent; be a part of Canada’s brand; and so on!