Seeking Innovative Approaches to Automating Processors

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, March 15, 2022 – The Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN) today launched its Beef and Pork Primary Processing Automation and Robotics Program, a $5M initiative designed to foster the development and adoption of innovative technology-based solutions to challenges facing red meat processors.

“Our team is pleased to unveil this opportunity to support the country’s red meat processing sector,” said CAAIN CEO, Kerry Wright. “The pandemic has exacerbated ongoing difficulties associated with labour shortages, worker safety and productivity, and supply chain disruptions. Plant closures further impact producers whose hogs and cattle must be processed in a timely manner. We have diligently engaged beef and pork industry stakeholders in broad-based consultations and one-on-one discussions to better determine key priorities. The results were unequivocal. We must act now to help advance processors who want to implement emerging technology that will enhance their competitiveness and profitability.”

CAAIN’s mandate from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada is to focus its funding on three types of technological advancements of importance to the agri-food sector. One of these pillars is the burgeoning field of automation and robotics. Through the program announced today, CAAIN is providing further support to innovators in this field. But CAAIN cannot take all the credit.

“We wish to acknowledge and thank the industry professionals who helped our program managers develop this competition, providing perspective and defining priorities. Their collaboration is particularly important because, of the $49.5M the Government of Canada has invested in this network, $9.5M is earmarked to fund livestock innovation,” explained Ms. Wright.  “While we already have several projects on the go in this sub-sector, we have been encouraged to seek ways to alleviate labour challenges experienced recently by Canadian meat processors. The issues in question gained public prominence when COVID outbreaks shut down facilities, temporarily disrupting the supply chain, and resulting in major shortages and price increases. Encouraging modernisation is a big piece of the puzzle and, while there is likely no silver bullet solution, we can certainly move the goalposts by supporting innovative approaches to automation across the sector.”

When added to the total of approximately $17M CAAIN expects to provide to the 16 successful applicants of its first two competitions, the $5M that will be used to support this beef and pork processing initiative pushes CAAIN’S funding commitments to nearly $22M. Details are available online at


“Our government is proud to collaborate with CAAIN as they continue to innovate and find better solutions in the agri-tech sector that will support the growth of the Canadian economy. Through dedicated support for innovative projects, this competition will help ensure smart and efficient meat-processing solutions and strengthen the productivity of the sector.” 

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“The Government of Canada is investing in CAAIN’s platform for innovative solutions to help improve efficiencies in the agriculture sector that support competitiveness and growth. This initiative will provide the red meat industry with cutting-edge, transformative technology that will help beef and pork processors address supply chain and labour issues, while ensuring they can continue to deliver high-quality food across the country.”

The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“Automation in meat processing is very challenging compared to other sectors. Understanding and managing biological variability means the technologies that will be developed need to be even smarter. The results of this competition will advance the industry and keep meat a part of Canada’s food security.”

Laura Kilcrease, Chair, CAAIN Board of Directors



The Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network is a not-for-profit company launched in July 2019 with funding of $49.5‑million from the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s  Strategic Innovation Fund and assistance from Alberta Innovates in the form of significant in-kind contributions. CAAIN connects and invests in Canada’s agri-food and technology sectors to drive innovation and productivity.   Twitter   LinkedIn


Project Funding Inquiries
Kerry Wright
Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network
Media Inquiries
Eric Morin, CMP
Manager, Communications and Marketing
Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network
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