The year’s top ten stories that forecast opportunities in 2022

December 12, 2021

As we wrap up 2021, the NPC team is looking back on what has been a remarkable year for natural product innovation.

We chose ten stories that demonstrate the key opportunities for growth in 2022.

Despite the ongoing uncertainties and ever-changing landscape of COVID-related issues, Canada continues to see impressive growth and momentum in the development and commercialization of truly game-changing innovations.  

Aside from the plethora of individual companies making headlines (including the ten we’re featuring below), there were also substantial infrastructure and ecosystem announcements that bode well for 2022: the launch of the Canadian Food Innovation Network–a new network to stimulate connections, collaborations, innovation and investments across Canada’s food ecosystem; Protein Industries Canada’s continued investments in plant-based protein; the launch of Canada Plastics Pact–a pre-competitive, multi-stakeholder platform to tackle plastic packaging waste and pollution throughout the Canadian plastics value chain; and numerous forward-thinking investments by Sustainable Development Technologies Canada, to name just a few.

And globally, there are persistent indicators of the demand for biologically-based products and solutions that are better for people, animals and the planet such as:

  • A significant report Blue Horizon and Boston Consulting Group projecting the alternative protein market will reach $290B (USD) by 2035 pointing to expansive opportunities for additional product and development
  • A UN report warning plastic pollution in marine areas will double by 2030 underscores the urgency for alternative, biodegradable plastic solutions
  • The global attention to climate change and sustainability goals surrounding COP 26 raise interest in sustainable solutions that reduce GHG emissions in all industries
  • Numerous reports reveal consumer interest in the link between food and nutrition and their health and wellbeing, indicating further opportunities in product development focused on areas such as plant-based, gut health, mental health, and sugar and alcohol reduction

Regular readers of NPC’s newsletter will know there are many more rising Canadian stars that could be on the following list. Narrowing it down to just ten was an arduous task! We chose the following for three reasons. First, these companies have proven themselves as high-potential companies as the NPC team has worked with them through our advisory services, commercialization programs, or investment fund. Second, they achieved significant milestones in their growth plans in a year with more than its fair share of COVID- and climate-related challenges. And finally, they operate in categories that show great signs of acceleration in the years ahead.

So rather than simply a look back, these ten stories are a great indicator of the growth potential the NPC team sees for all Canadian natural product innovation in 2022.

  1. Bast Fibre Tech raises cash and sets up shop in Germany

Bast Fibre Technologies (BFT), the BC-based company that converts plant-based material such as hemp into absorbent fibres for things like compostable wipes, raised $8.5M to allow the company to expand production. They also acquired an ISO 9001 certified textile processing facility in Germany to increase capacity and keep up with the growing demand for more sustainable fibres.

2. Globe and Mail ‘top growing’ list features many ‘better for you’ companies

The demand for clean label and ‘better for you’ food and beverages continued to skyrocket in 2021. Notable up and coming companies meeting this demand made it to the prestigious Globe and Mail list of top growing companies, including: Good Food For Good (date-sweetened ‘better for you’ sauce and condiments), Partake Brewing (award-winning non-alcohol craft beer), and Chickapea (protein- and fibre-rich pasta). As the intense focus on how we nourish our bodies continues, we expect many more companies in this category to land on the ‘top growing’ list next year.

3. Lucent’s earth-friendly farming focus attracts capital

Alberta’s Lucent Biosciences had a $4.2M capital raise, which included notable investors such as SVG Ventures. The investment fell on the footsteps of Canadian field trials of their ‘smart fertilizer’ product, Soileos, which showed yield gains of up to 45 per cent for vegetables and up to 20 per cent on crops such as corn, canola, lentils and wheat. Sustainable agriculture was a hot topic in 2021, particularly in Canada where climate-related challenges wreaked havoc on farmers in various regions across the country.  

4. DeNova’s sustainable protein technology attracts private and public capital

DeNova Inc, a Nova Scotia-based company with a suite of technologies that leverage natural bacteria to convert greenhouse gases into sustainable protein, received $2.6M from Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, as well as completing a capital raise, which featured Sandpiper Ventures and Natural Products Canada. Two trends in this story that we expect to see more of in 2022: a female-founded company (DeNova) and a female-focused venture fund (Sandpiper Ventures); and a growing global focus on fermentation technology to create sustainable protein for the human and animal feed markets.

5. Bosk completes facility to create bioplastic from wood industry waste

Quebec-based Bosk Bioproducts completed a production facility to scale their innovative technology that converts a pulp and paper industry waste stream into a valuable, sustainable bioplastic. Earlier in the year the company received $1M from the Government of Canada through the Plastics Challenge. The company falls in the growing movement toward “circular economies” with its focus on converting biological waste streams into biodegradable alternatives to petroleum-based plastics.

6. Plant-based meal replacement, Sperri, takes top spot at CHFA LaunchPad

Sperri, a plant-based product designed to “create an alternative choice to ‘Boost’ and ‘Ensure’” took the $20,000 top prize in the Canadian Health Food Association’s annual LaunchPad competition for innovative new products. The prize immediately shone a spotlight on Sperri, generating a ton of demand on the newly-launched product. Sperri is the first offering from Nova Scotia-based company Novagevity, which is directly aligned with the growing consumer trend of improving health through food and nutrition, which has intensified during the pandemic.

7. CanBiocin secures European distribution partner 

CanBiocin, the Alberta-based maker of species-specific probiotics for companion and production animals, partnered with Healy Group, a global distributor of health and nutrition products. The move catapults CanBiocin’s ability to meet the growing demand for clean label nutrition ingredients from pet food manufacturers in the United Kingdom and Ireland that has risen from pet owners’ interest in aligning their pets’ nutrition values with their own.

8. Cellular ag player, Future Fields, raises $2.2M

Future Fields, an Alberta-based developer of a cost-effective growth medium for the cellular agriculture industry, raised $2.2M in a seed funding round led by Bee Partners. The company also shipped its first order of the growth medium and got a significant bump in awareness from a shout out by Hollywood celebrity, Robert Downey Jr. The entire cell ag category made gains in 2021 after Singapore approved the first cell ag-generated chicken nuggets, and new moves by Canadian organizations such as Ontario Genomics and CFIN indicate there is much more potential for Future Fields and other Canadian entries in the burgeoning industry.

9. Sentry’s water treatment technology attracts growth capital

PEI-based, Island Water Technologies (IWT), received $1.9M from Sustainable Development Technologies Canada to enhance SENTRY, its technology for optimizing wastewater treatment plants. Water security concerns are growing globally as the world faces climate-related challenges, paving the way for companies like IWT who are creating biologically-based, sustainable solutions to water monitoring and treatment.

10. Aspire Food Group creates world’s largest cricket protein manufacturing facility

Aspire Food Group of Ontario and its collaborators received $16.8 M from Next Generation Manufacturing to construct the world’s first fully automated cricket protein manufacturing facility. They are one of the larger Canadian players in the insect farming industry–a sector projected to be worth $8B by 2030–that continues to gain traction as a viable part of the solution to the global challenge to create sustainable protein for human and animal consumption.

Questions? Comments? Companies we missed? We’re always happy to hear from you.