Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership Delivers New Funding for Food Manufacturers to Grow
New funding programs from the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP) recently expanded the range of financial support available for food and beverage manufacturers. But with more programs, it also becomes a bit harder to know what’s out there for you. Funding also usually runs out well before the application window closes, adding time pressure to capture the opportunities on the table.
In this article, we focus on the key opportunities for manufacturers and processors (in particular through the AgriInnovate and AgriAssurance programs) to help you get the lay of the land and amplify your success before time runs out.
What is the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership?
Though it began on April 1, the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership is no joke: the new five-year agreement between the federal, provincial, and territorial governments aims to strengthen the competitiveness, innovation, and resiliency of the agriculture, agri-food, and agri-based products sector across the country with funding to the tune of $3.5B.
The Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership aims to position Canada as a “global leader in sustainable agriculture, economically, environmentally, and socially.” It responds to overall movement towards sustainable production and growth (like the “triple bottom line” framework that highlights people and planet alongside profits). The five priority areas are:
- Building sector capacity, growth and competitiveness
- Climate change and environment
- Science, research and innovation
- Market development and trade
- Resiliency and public trust
This ambitious mandate is implemented via a range of programs targeted towards these five key areas, but which ones will help you get to the next stage of growth? Let’s take a look at some options for food and beverage manufacturers to leverage Sustainable CAP funding opportunities before they’re used up.
Drive Innovation and Sustainable Growth with AgriInnovate
Some of the Sustainable CAP funding is targeted towards growing trade and expanding markets through programs like the AgriMarketing Program and the AgriCompetitiveness Program. Other kinds of funding are focused on fostering innovative and sustainable growth more broadly, covering commercialization activities as well as supporting pre-commercial research and development that will benefit the industry as a whole.
The AgriInnovation Program in particular emphasizes funding for the adoption of innovative technologies and processes through a 50% cost-sharing agreement for projects up to $5M. Those resources can be stretched out up to 5 years and support the adoption of – and adaptation to – proven technologies for agri-food operations. The AgriInnovate Program also crucially extends financial support to meet the costs of regulatory compliance, which impacts food manufacturers more so than most other sectors.
Food manufacturers looking to scale up their small to mid-sized operations of 50 staff or more are the ideal candidates for this funding stream, which can help innovative companies adopt technologies like Icicle to digitize their existing paper-based systems and move towards more sustainable practices at critical stages of their business’ growth – when the risks of failure are highest.
Grow Your Market Reach with AgriAssurance
In order to support diversity and a dynamic evolving sector, Sustainable CAP funding is also distributed through the AgriDiversity Program, which facilitates economic participation from underrepresented groups, and the AgriAssurance Programs, which aims to foster public trust in Canadian agri-food products.
Small and mid-sized enterprises looking to export to new markets can take advantage of the AgriAssurance Small & Mid-sized Enterprises Component in order to invest in food safety, traceability, and quality assurance systems that boost the credibility of their brand with consumers and major retailers. The program covers the adoption of assurance systems and tools to meet market requirements, providing 50% cost-sharing for projects up to $50,000.
Indeed, many export opportunities require third-party certifications recognized by Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) to harmonize best practices across the industry worldwide; more and more major retailers demand that their suppliers meet GFSI standards through certification programs like SQF and BRC. The AgriAssurance program specifically funds projects that tackle these challenges, such as conducting a GAP Analysis to assess and develop a comprehensive plan to achieve certification. The program’s $64M fund is earmarked for projects like developing documentation, adopting new technology and equipment, and supporting certification audits and renewals.
This funding can also be extended to meet sustainability goals more broadly under the Sustainable CAP mandate, from environmental sustainability to animal welfare. One of the stated goals is to “enable the industry to make credible, meaningful and verifiable claims about the health, safety, and quality of Canadian agricultural products.” Verifying these kinds of claims is key; just after the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership was announced, the Canadian government announced new requirements for sustainable packaging and labeling to combat “greenwashing” marketing practices.
Regulations like these are following the profitability of such claims. A recent article from Export Development Canada highlighted the economic benefits of “ecolabelling,” noting that health and sustainability products are “an incredible opportunity for Canadian brands.” In addition to environmental claims like Animal Welfare Approved, Canada Organic, CarbonFree® Certified, FAIRTRADE, and Oceanwise, common food claims include:
- Nutrition content claims like “no added sugar” or “50% less fat”
- Food composition claims like “100% real fruit” or “no preservatives added”
- Quality claims like “pasturized” “or “farm fresh”
- Allergen claims like “gluten-free” or “does not contain nuts”
- Method of production claims like “natural,” “artisan made,” or “grain-fed”
- Origin claims like “local” or “100% Canadian”
- Health claims and disease risk reduction or therapeutic claims
With such a range of possibilities, AgriAssurance funding opens the door to thoughtful market expansion that could improve your brand (and your business) overall.
Stay Prepared with Risk Management Programs under Sustainable CAP
The Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership also covers Risk Management Programs that provide protection against income and production losses – keeping the industry resilient against health emergencies and other unexpected or unprecedented events. They include:
- AgriStability provides support when producers experience a large margin decline
- AgriInsurance provides cash flow to help producers manage income declines
- AgriInvest offers cost-shared insurance against natural hazards to reduce the financial impact of production or asset losses
- AgriRecovery is a disaster relief framework to help producers recover from natural disaster events
Agrifood businesses can lessen the impact of identified risks by taking proactive risk mitigation measures, similar to how one would identify potential food safety or quality risks on the production floor. Preparedness can also reduce your insurance rate, which is why taking a holistic approach to internal systems and technology is definitely worthwhile as you scale your business.
Icicle’s Complete Food Manufacturing Software Amplifies Your Success
Much of the growth-oriented initiatives discussed here involve data – whether to prove environmental or quality claims for your products, boost your traceability systems, obtain certifications for regulatory compliance in new markets, or adopt new technologies that will give you an edge in a competitive market. Smart data management is a crucial component for food safety, traceability, and sustainability, not just to meet compliance requirements but to gain the clear and actionable insights you need to make data-informed decisions for your business.
Icicle ERP’s data management brings together all aspects of your business into one, centralized place with food safety and quality at its core. Take food waste as an example – leveraging data from your production, logistics, and sales teams, Icicle’s expiration management features maximize product shelf life (and therefore product quality and profitability) while also optimizing inventory efficiency and streamlining production workflows.
This kind of approach to smart data management made Icicle ERP stand out as a key tool for Canadian food and beverage manufacturers to build resilience across Canada’s complex food supply chain in a recent article in Techcouver Magazine. If you are looking to scale up your business with sustainability in mind, Icicle ERP can help you get there – and we can help you secure the funding to look forward to the future.
Act Now to Support the Growth of Your Food Manufacturing Business
New funding opportunities for Canadian food processors and other agrifood businesses pose a unique opportunity to adopt new technologies like Icicle ERP and power success. A little background expertise can go a long way: especially when applying for programs federally and at the province- or city-level, it may be possible to stack funding to receive more support for your project overall. Even existing Icicle users are likely able to claim their Icicle subscriptions as project expenses that support new initiatives.
Based on the popularity of past programs, it is likely that applications submitted sooner will have the best chance to secure funding. Get in touch with our team to learn more about your options for growth through Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership programs.