NRC capabilities in food

"Canada's food system is an 'integrated and competitive system consisting of input suppliers, primary producers (farmers), food and beverage processors, wholesalers, retailers and consumers'."

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The Canadian agriculture and agrifood system is valued at over $160B and creates 1 in 8 jobs in Canada

Food innovation

  • Making food more efficiently, generating less waste, using less water and energy, and personalizing food to suit evolving consumer needs and preferences
  • Sustainable, smart, safe and customized food

Key technologies for the future of food

Honeycomb graph showing key technologies.
Long description of the honeycomb graph showing key technologies for the future of food.

The technologies are:

  • technologies for sustainability & waste reduction
  • automation and robotics
  • advanced materials: green, bio-based, nano
  • photo of a researcher examining plants at the NRC's plant growth facility in Saskatoon
  • aquatic and crop biotechnologies
  • novel food productions platforms
  • ICT (Information and Communications Technology): artificial intelligence, Internet of things, big data analytics
  • real-time detection for food safety and traceability

The NRC is positioned to support food innovation through its diverse expertise, ability to establish collaboration with industry and academia, and long term holistic approach.


The NRC's food R&D themes

Food research and development themes infographic.
Long description of the NRC's food R&D themes infographic

The NRC organizes the work it does on food R&D into 3 themes. The first theme is sustainable agriculture and aquaculture. Within this theme, the NRC focuses its activities on:

  • crop productivity and trait development
  • plant genetics and genomics
  • aquaculture
  • water, land and agricultural inputs

The second theme the NRC supports is high-value food products and processing. Within this theme, the NRC focuses its activities on:

  • specialty and functional ingredients
  • value-added products from waste
  • process development and optimization

The third theme the NRC supports is smart solutions for food quality and safety. Within this theme, the NRC focuses its activities on:

  • devices
  • IT and big data analytics
  • smart packaging
  • green, compostable, and bio-based packaging materials

Crop productivity and trait development

Crop productivity and trait development
  • Doubled haploid and cell culture technologies
  • Hormone profiling
  • Seed development
  • Controlled environment plant growth facilities
  • Plant resistance to heat, cold and drought conditions
  • Disease resistance, plant pathogenesis and host-pathogen interactions
  • Metabolic engineering

Genetics and genomics

Genetics and genomics
  • Next-generation sequencing and ribonucleic acid sequencing
  • Marker-assisted selection
  • Transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics
  • Bioinformatics
  • Genome mapping


  • Certified reference materials
  • Evaluation of feed ingredients and therapeutic compounds

Water, land, and agricultural inputs

Water, land and agricultural inputs
  • Soil and water diagnosis and remediation: analysis of fresh water and algal blooms; bio-remediation
  • Soil analysis: microbial ecology, soil composition (laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy); relationship between soil, crops, and toxins
  • Agricultural inputs: nutrient use and uptake efficiency; fermentation and microbial production of soil amendments

Specialty and functional ingredients

Specialty and functional ingredients
  • Bioactive characterization and bioassays
  • Fatty acid and lipid chemistry
  • Nutraceutical and natural product development
  • Feed formulation from microalgae
  • Certified reference materials
  • Analytical support services for ingredient development

Value-added products from waste

Value-added products from waste
  • Anaerobic digestion and microbial production
  • Polysaccharide nanotechnology and lignocellulosic technology
  • Small and pilot scale fermentation and bioconversion facilities
  • Biomass development: processing, transformation and characterization
  • Enzyme technologies
  • Analytical support services

Process development and optimization

Process development and optimization
  • Real-time monitoring of food production using fluorometry
  • Separation, purification, fractionation, extraction, concentration, drying, characterization of proteins, peptides, and enzymes for food applications
  • Analytical support services for process optimization


  • Molecular-based rapid diagnostics and protocol development
  • Photonic sensors for food inspection
  • Hand-held devices for pathogen detection and spoilage

Smart packaging

Smart packaging
  • Printable electronics: radio-frequency identification, printed sensors for traceability
  • Smart polymer films
  • Graphenic nanocomposite barrier films
  • Nano antimicrobial compounds
  • Nanomaterials for molecular sensing of food spoilage

IT and big data analytics

IT and big data analytics
  • Computational biology
  • Statistical analysis
  • Machine learning

Green, compostable and bio-based packaging materials

Green, compostable and bio-based packaging materials
  • Materials from lignin, cellulose nanocrystals, and nanochitin
  • Efficient processing and performance evaluation of bioplastics
  • Production of bioresins, biofibres, biofillers, and bioadditives
  • Integration of renewable and biodegradable materials
  • Film and sheet manufacturing

NRC collaboration platform locations

Edmonton, Alberta

  • Semiconductor nanowires
  • Quantitation of CNC particle density in aqueous solutions
  • Nano antimicrobial compounds
  • Graphenic nanocomposite barrier films

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

  • Small-scale fermentation and bioprocessing
  • Crop development
  • Plant biotechnologies
  • Genomics and bioinformatics
  • Microbial ecology
  • Controlled environment plant-growth facilities

Halifax/Ketch Harbour, Nova Scotia

  • Algal technologies and photobioreactors
  • Feed formulation
  • Zebrafish facilities
  • Certified reference materials
  • Water analysis
  • Natural products chemistry

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

  • Natural product and functional ingredient development
  • Analysis and characterization

Montréal/Boucherville, Quebec

  • Small- to pilot-scale fermentation and bioprocessing
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Packaging formulation and fabrication
  • Soil analysis and bioremediation
  • Fluorometry
  • Nanomaterials
  • Diagnostics and handheld devices

Ottawa, Ontario

  • Bioprocessing, enzymes
  • Big data analysis, computational biology
  • Photonic sensors and printable electronics
  • Water optimization technologies
  • Certified reference materials

Alternate format

Presentation in PDF version (PDF, 1.02 MB)

Contact us

For further information on how the NRC can support your food technology needs, contact:

April Luong
Director, Business Development, Aquatic and Crop Resource Development
Telephone: 514-496-2745
Mobile: 514-262-3698