July 24, 2017

A Food Strategy for Canada

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Dr Michael Bloom, Conference Board of Canada

The Canadian Food Strategy, launched today as part of the 3rd Canadian Food Summit held in Toronto, stresses the importance of change to meet the food needs of Canadians and to enable the industry to grow.

“Canadians want food that is safe, nutritious, available to everyone and produced in ways that are environmentally sustainable” said Michael Bloom, V-P, Industry and Business Strategy. “It’s a blue print for change”.

It is not surprising that the five keys elements of the strategy address what Canadians are looking for: industry viability and prosperity, healthy food, food safety, household security and environmental sustainability.

The Canadian Food Strategy is the product of four years of research and dialogue by the Conference Board of Canada Centre for Food in Canada.

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James Withers, Scotland

National Food Strategies: Who & How?

Implementing a national food strategy is not an easy feat. Learning from countries that have already done so, can help Canada take advantage of lessons learned and best practices.  This was the topic covered in a plenary session led by Dr Michael Bloom VP, Conference Board of Canada at the 3rd Canadian Food Summit.

In his presentation, John Withers from Scotland Food and Drink, emphasized the importance of collaboration and economic growth as key drivers in their experience. Their strategy focussed on three (3) building blocks: premium food, health and provenance. They then turned their attention to building capacity and skills for growth, included scaling up of companies and innovation.

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Maarten Schans, Netherlands

Maarten Schans, from the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency, shared with us the agency’s role in soliciting foreign investments with strategic focus on sectors. The agency spoke with the food companies to identify barriers to success and a top sector approach was used to implement the strategy. “Defining clear roles between the government and the food companies is also crucial,” said Schans.

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Catherine Barnett, Australia

With Asia at its door step and 40% export to China, “the challenges are somewhat different in Australia”, said Catherine Barnett from Food South Australia.  “I’ve seen lots of plans in my career,” she added, “but implementation and commitment are key to success.”

 

Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly, Ireland

Paul Kelly, from Food & Drink Industry Ireland told the audience that they too had produced a few agri-vision documents. “But high level implementation commitment and committees chaired by the Agriculture and Food minister for example and good public and private partnerships supported by activation groups are some of the factors we found most helpful to move the plan forward in our country,” he added.

 

OUR TAKE: nufoods PROMOCOM international inc attended the 2 day Summit held in Toronto.  We thoroughly enjoyed the unique insights shared with us by top experts on how we can advance and grow Canada’s food sector.

Canada needs to maximize the talent and productivity of its food sector. We desperately need to strengthen and promote our world-class food production and food safety systems to deliver healthy foods accessible to all. We need to modernize our regulations for greater competitiveness. We need to actively engage stakeholders, further explore and act on trade opportunities, “INNOVATE  and ADD VALUE” to our food. But most of all, we need a champion and commitment to take the proposed plan forward.

Many of us at the Summit have been down similar roads over the years. Lots of good plans! Now we want ACTION!

The 3rd Canadian Food Summit delivered on both counts. It provided us with a solid Canadian Food Strategy to move forward and it proposed a number of actions.

The Conference Board of Canada intends to continue its work through three (3) initiatives:

  • Canadian Food Observatory—will be established to monitor progress and share information
  • Annual Report Card—A set of metrics will establish benchmarks against which performance will be gauged. The first report card is scheduled for the Fall of 2015
  • Research on Emerging Issues—further studies will be undertaken in order to build the evidence base

The Conference Board of Canada seems to be the champion we need to unleash the Canadian Food Strategy. Let’s get going!