Welcome of AIMday Plant Proteins 2020

AIMday Plant Proteins 2020 has been Postponed – Stay tuned for a new date in Fall 2020


Welcome to AIMday™ Plant Proteins 2020, hosted by Innovation Enterprise, University of Saskatchewan, in collaboration with the University of Regina.

This is the sixth AIMday™ being organized in North America. We look forward to welcoming companies, organizations and academic researchers to this event on March 4th, 2020, to discuss specific industry challenges within the Plant Proteins research space.

Academic Industry Meeting day, or AIMday™, is centered around workshops whereby company questions are submitted around a central theme which are then discussed by academics from across the University disciplines.

  • Each question or challenge submitted by a company is tackled by a group of academics, with the aim of finding a pathway to a solution.
  • One question, one hour, a group of academic experts – the AIMday™ format is unique.
  • Register your attendance at the event by submitting a question on the registration page.

Why plant proteins?

Protein is a fundamental component of the human diet and every cell in the body as it helps in the maintenance, tissue repair, and building of the body’s structures, and also in the production of enzymes and hormones. Proteins are present in every part of the body; the muscles, hair, skin, bones and organs. The body’s inability to store protein as is the case with other macronutrients such as carbohydrates, means that its steady protein intake ought to come from diets. Although protein can come from animal or plant sources, plant protein is the most preferred source for many reasons.

Studies show that plant proteins contain lower levels of cholesterol. In general, plant products are high in fiber and important phyto-nutrients, phyto-chemicals, vitamins and minerals, as well as low in calories and fats. Since proteins are required by all living things, every plant contains protein. Some common plant protein sources include legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and faux meats. Consuming more plant protein has also been associated with general improvement in the overall body health.

Current Trends

The increasing demand for plant proteins has been triggered by changing western diets, the health benefits of plant proteins, and the expected increase in the world’s population in the next few decades. Other factors accounting for the shift to plant proteins include changing market trends, the need for reduction in food wastes, changing food preferences, climate change, and an increasing awareness of the need for improved health and overall wellbeing.


The current increase in the worldwide demand for plant protein underscores its role as an essential source of high‐value nutrients for human diets. According to the Plant Protein Alliance of Alberta, human consumption of plant-based proteins is expected to double by 2023. Interestingly, plant-based proteins are expected to cover 33% of the total protein market by 2054. Protein Industries Canada asserts that the increasing global population, changing western diets, and a growing middle class are all catalysts for the surging demand in plant-based proteins.

Apart from the huge human health implications relative to protein consumption, there are also potential economic and social benefits and opportunities. Some of these include:

Improved nutrition: There are epidemiologic and clinical evidences linking high consumption of plant‐based foods and a remarkably reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer, while supporting longevity. The increasing awareness on the need for improved human health and overall well-being, is leading to changes in consumer behavior. Most plant – based proteins, such as pulses, are healthy because of their low fat and cholesterol – free nature. They are also excellent options for vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and weight loss diets.

Business Opportunities: Changing consumer preferences and the surging demand for plant proteins represent growth opportunities for existing Canadian businesses in the plant protein space. The change in western diets with a shift towards more consumption of plant proteins, creates avenues for Canadian businesses to develop advanced breeding techniques and novel food ingredients, and also improve protein content and quality in order to meet the increasing demand. Added to this, is the opportunity for a diversified market with a rising demand for higher protein livestock feed, pet food and aquaculture. This highlights the need to develop techniques to enhance efficiency and create new protein products to attract more investors.

The global plant-based protein market is currently estimated at more than USD$8 billion with a projection to reach USD$14.8 billion by 2023. Plant- based proteins are used in everything including baby food, high protein pastas and veggie burgers. This gives the Prairies a competitive advantage as well as opportunities for further production growth, given their large volume production of canola, lentils, peas, and beans.

Value added processing opportunities: The increasing interest in protein as a macronutrient is also triggering the development of protein ingredients from other sources such as, plants and other alternatives relative to animal derived proteins. In an effort to meet the rising protein demand, new processing techniques could be developed to improve processing efficiency, thereby leading to the creation of new businesses, products, services, jobs, and enhancing economic growth. Also, using food processing byproducts for bioactive compounds and the extraction of essential nutrients, presents opportunities to reduce waste and generate income indirectly.

Promotion of environmental (planetary) health: Besides the health benefits and economic opportunities, growing plant proteins has the potential to positively contribute to general planetary health, due to its ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Pulses, for instance, have been shown to promote soil conservation by improving soil tilth and placing nutrients such as nitrogen back into the soil. By so doing, they help decrease carbon dioxide emissions and reduce the environmental footprints from agriculture. Protein production generally requires less land, water and energy compared to animal protein production.

Value add (including by products): There are many opportunities for the valorization of plant protein by-products. By-products from some plant-based proteins exhibit good antioxidant, anti-bacterial or bile-expelling activities, while others possess a wide range of pharmaceutical and nutraceutical properties. Some others are used for animal and fish feed, pet food and personal care products. For example, by – products from peas and lentils are used as cheap feedstuff in animal food and poultry.

In addition, food by-products have other uses such as antimicrobials, colorants, food additives, texturizing agents, dairy formulations, and functional foods containing polyphenols and fiber. Such opportunities support waste reduction, while promoting novel avenues to diversify the production of commercial goods and create job opportunities.


The production of novel proteins would require the development of new value chains and attention to issues such as production costs, food safety, and consumer acceptance (social license). An expanding plant protein production and processing industry, might also demand the involvement of wider stakeholders in the governance, development, and commercialization roles to address issues relating to the sources of protein and ensure food security. Also, the shift towards plants – derived protein could be seen as a threat to meat and dairy companies, which are experiencing a decline in the demand for their products.

Other challenges for plant protein production include sources of raw materials, process optimization, functionality assessment, flavor and texture modification, formulation issues, and innovative ways of using by-products.

There is need to develop improved protein extraction methods for some forms of protein like seaweed and microalgae, with poor digestibility when they are raw and unprocessed. The polysaccharides in seaweed, for instance, can decrease the availability of proteins and decrease its extraction efficacy. Also, extraction processes might produce undesirable protein flavors ranging from bland, earthy, beany, bitter, to a cardboard- like taste, or cause a decrease in its nutritive value and functional properties like solubility and water and oil retention. Apart from the challenges with protein flavors there are also concerns with the texture and these could be key barriers to its purchase by consumers.

Lastly, the brand marketers need to further educate consumers on the value and benefits of plant proteins.


University of Saskatchewan   University of Saskatchewan

The University of Saskatchewan (UofS) is a member of the U15, a group of the top Canadian research universities. Our main campus, well known for its beauty, is located in the heart of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada and is home to programs ranging from business, law, and arts and science to engineering, medicine and veterinary medicine, along with many others.

The University of Saskatchewan is poised to play leadership roles in the following areas due to the research expertise and facilities:

  • Plant breading at Crop Development Centre: development of new varieties with increased content of quality plant proteins;
  • Protein quality and utilization research group: development of new and innovative uses of plant proteins for food, feed and biomaterial applications;
  • Carbohydrate quality and utilization: Exploration and promotion of value-added utilization of carbohydrates in foods, feed and bioproducts that will help protein industry to capture more value from its feedstock;
  • Pharmacy and Nutrition: development of innovative uses of plant sourced materials for nutrition and human health;
  • The Bioprocessing Pilot Plant: offering fractionation and separation tools that are unique in Western Canada for production of plant natural products. Potentially useful applications are in areas as diverse as foods, biofuels, new drugs, vaccines and nanomaterials.
  • The Global Institute for Food Security and work on plant phenotyping to increase yield and protein content.
  • Imaging, identifying protein qualities and location in plants or foods

For an overview of other expertise, facilities, services and technologies available at the UofS, please visit the Portal for Industry Engagement.

University of Regina  University of Regina Logo

The University of Regina is home to more than 400 researchers across 10 faculties, two academic units and dozens of academic departments with established reputations for excellence and innovative programs leading to Bachelor’s, Master’s, and doctoral degrees. Over the last decade the University of Regina has emerged as a research-intensive Canadian university, leading in research impact, international collaborations, graduate student training, and industry funding in the following areas of strategic priority: Anxiety, stress & pain; Digital future; Integrated human health: Equity, disease & prevention; Social justice & community safety; and, Water, environment & clean energy.

The breadth of research at the University of Regina has numerous applications useful for advancing the development and use of Plant Proteins but selected examples of specific areas of research that have generated significant collaborations with our research partners include:

  • Functional microbial genomics laboratory at the University of Regina’s Institute for Microbial Systems and Society (IMSS)
  • Autonomous agricultural vehicles in our industrial systems engineering group
  • Effects of environmental changes and industrial activities on fresh water systems at the Institute for Environmental Change and Society and on the soils that support our infrastructure through our multi-disciplinary Ground Security Initiative
  • Waste management, groundwater simulation, water treatment development, climate modeling, and general environmental impacts through the Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainable Communities
  • Factors that affect consumer decisions as it relates to pro-environmental behaviours using techniques from psychology, public policy and economics
  • Advanced plant imaging techniques to see the plant functions at a molecular.


Industry registration is now closed.

Researcher registration is now closed.

Should you have any questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to Contact Us.