The start of May marked several noteworthy firsts for the Canadian Alternative Protein and Cellular Agriculture industry. In my previous blog post, I discussed the significance of seemingly small milestones that can have a tremendous impact in the future. Last week, I encountered yet another one of these "dots" in my journey, which I firmly believe will reshape the trajectory of food technology in Canada.
The FoodHack meetup in Toronto – May 4th 2023
Canada’s food tech community welcomed its first ever FoodHack Meetup in Toronto this month. As someone who had the privilege of participating as both a speaker and attendee at this groundbreaking event, I'm delighted to share some highlights with you. This inaugural meetup, held at the dynamic WeWork space in downtown Toronto, brought together a remarkable community of industry pioneers, entrepreneurs, and passionate food enthusiasts.
Organized by the brilliant minds of Laurie Jittoo, (founder - Tacos and Waffles), and Jireh Lau, (founder - Guy Bean), the event showcased their dedication and
commitment to advancing the food tech industry. The invited speakers (including myself) reflected on their journey into food technology and shared their founder stories. Subhi Alsayed shared his expertise on gluten-free fermented beverages, highlighting exciting possibilities in this niche market. Chris Bryson's presentation on plant-based salmon showcased advancements in sustainable seafood alternatives. I delved into cellular agriculture and precision fermentation, emphasizing their potential in sustainable food production systems.
Here are three key takeaways that emerged from the meetup:
Embracing diversity fuels innovation: The meetup demonstrated how diversity drives innovation in the food tech industry, with over 40 attendees engaging in discussions. The 30-second pitch competition was a standout moment, featuring founders from diverse backgrounds sharing their company visions.
Balancing Taste and Nutrition One important takeaway from the meetup was the emphasis on taste as a critical factor in consumer acceptance. While nutrition is crucial, creating delicious food experiences is equally important. Startups and entrepreneurs need to prioritize texture and mouthfeel while iterating on nutritional profiles to meet evolving consumer expectations. By striking a balance between taste and nutrition, food tech innovators can overcome the misconception that healthy or sustainable food lacks flavour.
Navigating Regulations and Government Support The meetup highlighted the need for increased government funding and infrastructure support to nurture Toronto's food tech ecosystem. By leveraging government support, farmland resources and streamlining regulatory processes, startups can be empowered to navigate the regulatory landscape, thereby fostering a conducive environment for the development and commercialization of novel and sustainable food products.
If you missed out on attending this event, no worries! We have three more meetups on the horizon. Follow FoodHack Toronto's page to stay updated on upcoming events. Also, a special shoutout to Subhi Alsayed for hosting the event at WeWork, and Karishma Velani for skillfully capturing some wonderful candid moments from the event. Check out more of her work here.
The 1st Canadian Cellular Agriculture workshop – May 8th and 9th 2023:
Cellular Agriculture pioneer organization New Harvest, in collaboration with Transition Accelerator and College La Cité, successfully organized Canada's inaugural Cellular Agriculture (cellag) ecosystem workshop earlier this month. The event brought together approximately 34 representatives from various stages of Canada's cellag supply chain pipeline. I am immensely thankful for the opportunity to contribute my insights and perspectives on the growth of this burgeoning food tech vertical.
The two-day workshop was full of extensive discussions around the present and future of the Canadian cellag ecosystem and how we can collectively leverage our experience to realize our mission. Some key highlights from the workshop:
1. Brainstorming sessions: The highly interactive workshop included several round table discussions and team building exercises. We discussed everything from current opportunities, challenges to success stories. We also had speakers sharing valuable insights about industry growth and funding, bioprocess facilities and cultivating government and public relations.
2. Mission led action items: Through extensive brainstorming sessions, our team developed a concrete timeline and actionable tasks to turn our shared vision into a reality. With a clear plan in place, we are poised to drive the growth and success of the Canadian cellular agriculture ecosystem.
3. The food! : All the refreshments and meals provided by the culinary school at La Cité College were beyond delicious, surpassing even some of the plant-based options I had personally tried in the past.
All things considered, Canada's food tech landscape is experiencing a remarkable growth, and I'm eagerly anticipating the exciting possibilities it holds for the future.