LETHBRIDGE - The Prairie economy could see a significant benefit as agricultural opportunities grow out of the expanding global demand for plant ingredients.
While Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba already produce quantities of food crops, a recent report from the Canada West Foundation says the same provinces have the chance to dominate the market for plant ingredients.
The report, "Sprouted: The plant ingredient opportunity taking root on the Prairies", notes that crops such as lentils, peas and beans, "are in demand to be processed into plant ingredient components, such as protein, fibre and starch."
The document stipulates that the prairies are well-placed not only to enter the non-soy plant ingredient processing sector, but to also take advantage of the value-added possibilities. The provinces already have successful early investments into processing facilities and are home to plant-science research and development required to commercialize new crop varieties that contain sought-after ingredient characteristics.
A global reputation as a reliable supplier is also a bonus.
According to the report, "plant-based ingredients are in high demand for use in nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, pet food and animal feed. The demand for plant-based protein alone is already valued at more than US$8 billion and growing rapidly, and this is only one of the ingredients that can be extracted from crops."
However, a regional approach is critical to developing the industry. It can be done with the provinces competing against each other, or competing together, in a common front against the rest of the world, which would offer a winning combination
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