Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday January 23, 2019
New food guide set to challenge prominence of meat, dairy industries
Health Canada unveiled a radically new food guide Tuesday that eliminates food groups, encourages plant-based foods over meat and dairy products, and is likely to force changes across the country’s agricultural industry.
“I see the food guide as a challenge for many industries,” said Simon Somogyi, a University of Guelph professor studying the business of food. “How they adapt will be of interest.”
Meat enjoyed a dominant position in the previous food guide, with a meat-and-alternatives category and a recommended two to three servings daily for adults depending on their sex and age. It now features much less prominently. The new guide encourages people to “eat protein foods,” but choose those that come from plants more often.
It’s a win for plant-protein farmers, like those growing beans, chickpeas and lentils, but a potential threat to meat producers.
Somogyi believes consumers will favour high-quality beef when they choose to consume red meat, and farmers will likely want to shift to producing niche products.
If Canadians eat less meat, there may be opportunities to export to Asian markets, where a middle-class consumer wants safe, high-quality cuts.
“If the Canadian beef sector can provide that then their future looks bright,” Somogyi said.
The industry may also want to collaborate with plant-protein producers, said Sylvain Charlebois, a Dalhousie University professor who researches food. (Source: CBC)