Protein Industries Canada offers $10 million to help grow AI use in food sector

a veggie burger
AI is being applied to the plant-based food industry's efforts to satisfy ever-changing consumer demands.

If it seems like artificial intelligence (AI) is in just about everything but your food, that’s about to change.

Protein Industries Canada has issued a $10-million CAD call for food-focused AI projects.

The industry-led non-profit organization said it’s increasing its focus on novel AI ventures that accelerate the commercialization of new plant-based ingredients and food, helping make Canada’s plant-based food sector more efficient and sustainable.

“[AI] cannot be overlooked in the plant-based sector’s effort to meet ever-changing consumer demands and expectations.”
—Protein Industries Canada

“It’s a technology that can’t be overlooked in the plant-based sector’s effort to meet ever-changing consumer demands and expectations,” according to the industry group.

An emerging way of applying technology in Canada’s food sector, AI has the potential to change how ingredient processors and food manufacturers operate, Protein Industries Canada said.

In particular, the technology has been proven to speed up ingredient and recipe formulation, and is showing potential in the areas of food safety and quality assurance, according to the group.

Some examples Protein Industries Canada gave for applications of the technology included employing AI technology through imaging technology, process automation for food safety and/or quality assurance, and designing food products that help achieve certain health outcomes or to address health concerns.

Protein Industries Canada’s newest call for industry-led projects is focused on those that use AI to advance the development of the country’s plant-based food and ingredients. Expressions of interest will be accepted on a continual basis, with the call closing once available funds have been allocated.

Between now and March 31, 2026, Protein Industries Canada says it plans to invest $30 million into these artificial intelligence projects, benefiting the plant-based and agrifood sectors. The amount invested in each project will depend on proposed scope and impact.

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Projects may be either solicited or unsolicited. There may be instances when Protein Industries Canada issues a specific call for projects to fill an identified gap, the organization said. However, companies across the country are encouraged to propose projects that are aligned with and contribute to the objectives of advancing Canada’s plant-based food and ingredients ecosystem.

The selection committee consists of Danielle Gifford, currently the executive director at Movement51, an education platform from The51 that focuses on entrepreneurship and early-stage investing for female founders and investors; and Evgueni Loukipoudis, the head of Research and Emerging Technologies at Rhapsody Health. Before joining Rhapsody he was the CTO of the Digital Technology Supercluster, where he inspired and supported innovative collaborative projects to deliver over 150 novel products and services.

The third member of the committee is Mai Mavinkurve. Mavinkurve is an industry expert and advisor in data, applied AI, emerging technologies and innovation. As a member of the ISED Economic Strategy – Digital Industries Table, she led the subgroup that developed national data strategy and IP recommendations. She has also represented Canada at the G7 ministerial meetings on AI and the future of work.

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Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

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