The summit in Saskatoon and a companion event in June in Calgary are the first of their kind in North America. The Plant Protein Ingredients Summit in Saskatoon May 29 to 31 offers an unprecedented opportunity for Canada’s industry to receive some international recognition, learn from seasoned players on the global food stage, and network with possible collaborators.
The Plant-Based Foods Summit, June 3 to 5 in Calgary, will target retail, food service, food brands and ingredient manufacturers. It’s the first time Bridge2Food, a European food networking and conference firm, is bringing its popular global plant-protein summits to Canada.
While the speakers and experts provide inspiration and insights on strategy, much of the benefit to producers and entrepreneurs will also be in networking with potential partners and market players. Klein Essink, CEO of Bridge2Food, explains the need for such summits: “When you’re a start-up it’s very important you have access to the market. In Saskatoon, there will be lots of food companies who need your ingredient. You will be able to get contact with leading customers plus other suppliers who can help you in your business.”
The conferences will provide small- and medium-size enterprises with access to some giant consumer-focused multinationals. Meat and dairy producers can benefit from the summit as well, learning about the new diverse protein market.
Essink says big companies want better ingredients and small companies want to understand what is needed: “The solution is to bring different stakeholders together.” He added that the Calgary meeting is for any business interested in consumers, including retailers, food-service channels including restaurant chains, and food manufacturers making vegetarian burgers or dairy-free products.
Norm Janssen, investment attraction manager for Alberta Agriculture, has attended Bridge2Food summits in Europe and has been a booster in attracting the conferences to Western Canada. Plant protein is no flash in the pan, says Janssen: “This is something the marketplace is going to move to long term. This is a great opportunity for small- and medium-sized companies to gain some market insight. We can see what is happening and has happened, in Europe. We gain insight by seeing where the market has gone in other parts of the world.”