Canada’s New Nutrition Guidelines Lead to Massive Tofu Shortage

Quebec is experiencing a tofu shortage, according to CTV News Montreal. The shortage comes after Canada’s new nutrition guidelines emphasized the importance of plant-based protein and nearly cut the dairy category altogether.

Tofu has always been popular in the province, according to Sylvain Charlebois, a professor of food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University. But, Health Canada’s 2019 food guide, and its focus on vegan food, has seen demand soar.

Charlebois told CTV, “26 [percent] of Quebecers will eat tofu on a regular basis versus 16 [percent] in the rest of Canada.”

Unisoya and Soyarie – Quebec’s two main tofu suppliers – are struggling to keep up with Quebec’s demand; the former is not selling to major chains until it can sort out supply issues.

“Grocery chains tend to demand a lot of product and they go after their vendors and usually they buy in bulk,” explained Charlebois. “When there are backorders, it’ll effect several stores at once.”

For tofu-lovers, this may seem like bad news. However, Charlebois maintains that the shortage is actually good news in the long term; both major tofu companies are currently expanding their factories in an attempt to keep up with the demand.

“It’s actually good news if there are expansion projects going on in tofu,” he said. “It means that financiers in the tofu sector expect demand for tofu to increase over time.”

One company that has noticed the surge in demand since the new food guidelines is Supermarche PA, a Montreal-based supermarket chain. Nick Lup, the manager of the company, told CTV, “We had a spike in demand of the plain tofu and a lot of the people are now getting more educated, asking pertinent questions, asking around and wanting more to consume this healthy alternative,” he said.

It’s not just in Quebec where demand is increasing for vegan food. Across Canada, consumers are becoming more conscious of the effects of meat and dairy consumption on their health, the environment, and the animals. According to a study from November 2018, again from Dalhousie University, 6.4 million Canadians are consciously limiting their meat consumption.

And it’s young people leading the way, according to Charlebois. He told LIVEKINDLY last year, “[Young consumers] are more likely to consider factors like climate change and animal welfare as critical issues while consuming meat products.”

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