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New Prairie-based venture aims to grow protein market through federal partnership

Murad Al-Katib, president and CEO of Saskatoon-based AGT Food and Ingredients, receiving the Oslo Business for Peace Award.
Murad Al-Katib, president and CEO of AGT Food and Ingredients, receiving the Oslo Business for Peace Award. Dayne Winter / Global News

With a goal to turn Western Canada into the world leader in the plant-based protein market, Protein Industries Canada (PIC), a crop research supercluster with Saskatchewan roots, was today named one of the five finalists in the federal government’s Innovation Superclusters Program.

In the next couple of months, PIC will be up and running and is expected to receive approximately $150 million over the next decade.

Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced that PIC would share the program’s $950 million funding pool with four other finalists.

READ MORE: Government reveals who is getting $950M in ‘supercluster’ funding

PIC is an industry-led alliance with over 120 private-sector companies, academic institutions, and other stakeholders from across Western Canada. They are all aimed at the full development of the potential plant-based proteins from multiple crops such as canola pulses, grains, hemp, and flax.

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Throughout the following four areas: crop breeding, crop production, value-added processing and export development, PIC will focus on improvements in all aspects.

“I want to thank the Federal Government for their vision in investing in this project and particularly Ministers Goodale, Nohi, and Carr for their work in securing the investment. This is an exciting opportunity for agriculture across the Prairies and food processors across Canada,” Frank Hart, PIC Board Chair said in the statement.

The report predicts that the global population is expected to be 30 per cent larger by 2050, with much of this growth taking place in Asia.

Regina-based AGT Foods President and CEO Murad Al-Katib is a primary partner in the supercluster. He sees Asia is a prime market to expand in.

“Protein is what the world is demanding today. When we look at growth in population and rising incomes in Asia, I want us to have an opportunity to take advantage of $33 trillion in middle class spending growth in Asia,” Al-Katib said.

It is estimated that PIC will create 4,500 jobs in Western Canada over the next decade and generate $4.5 billion in GDP growth.

Former SaskTel CEO Ron Styles is the acting president of PIC. He will be a guiding force in establishing the new company now that supercluster funding is in place.

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With files from Kate Kozar