The Food Sustainability and Resilience Cluster

Project Description:

The objective of the Food Sustainability and Resilience Cluster is to support collaboration in three key priority areas that will promote energy reduction and efficiency, innovative production technology and practices.

Executive Director:

Scientific Directory Phillip Lee Wing

Heidi Loney

Position: Executive Director
Organization: Food Sustainability and Resilience Cluster

Heidi Loney currently serves as the Executive Director and Cluster Director for the Canadian Institute of Food Science (CIFST). Her journey with CIFST began in 2018 when she joined as a digital media specialist. Since late 2021, Heidi has been in the role of associate executive director before assuming her current position.

Heidi has an Applied Arts degree in Technical Theatre Production from Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) and she worked as a costumer in Toronto theatre and film. While raising her two boys, she also enjoyed a career as a blogger and YP author before launching her very successful Costume CO YouTube channel – Analysing Story Through a Costume Lens.

Heidi loves to give back to her community by helping support the settlement of newcomers, most notably from Syria and Afghanistan. As well, she provides support to a family living in Nunavut.

Scientific Director:

Scientific Directory Phillip Lee Wing

Phillip Lee Wing

Position: Scientific Director
Organization: Food Sustainability and Resilience Cluster

Dr. Lee Wing is the Scientific Director of the newly formed Food Sustainability and Resilience Cluster under The Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology.

He has been active in Food research and Innovations over three decades and not only brings Industrial experience but also practical solutions to Food related issues. In 2012, he was the President of The Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST) and continues to serve on the CIFST Past Presidents’ Council.

He has served on many committees with OMAFRA, NSERC and has been an invited speaker on various occasions in China, Taiwan, and many parts of North and South America. He is also a member of the special Graduate faculty at the University of Guelph, Department of Food Science.

Scientific Advisory Board (SAB):

Position: Senior Research Scientist and Adjunct Professor
Organization: Guelph Research and Development Centre, AAFC; University of Guelph


Dr. Cui is a Senior Research Scientist at the Guelph Research and Development Centre and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Dr. Cui also serves as the Adjunct Professor at the University of Guelph, Department of Food Science.

Dr. Cui’s expertise includes dietary fibre and dietary fibre analysis, structure, and functional properties of bioactive carbohydrates and from agricultural products and natural hydrocolloids. He is specialized on extraction, fractionation, analysis of natural polysaccharides, and elucidation of polysaccharide structures using methylation analysis, 2D NMR and mass spectroscopic techniques.

He has been studying the bioactivity and structure-function relationship of polysaccharides by examining their conformation, rheological properties and functionality using light scattering and computer modelling approaches and developing methodologies and process technologies to incorporate soluble dietary fibre and plant proteins into food products to exert health benefits.

Dr. Cui is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Bioactive Carbohydrates and Dietary Fibre journal, and he is Editor and Editorial Board Member of the Food Hydrocolloids journal. He was Editor of the Food Research International journal for 3 years (2009-2012) and served and a Director for the Board of the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST) for two terms (2009-2012, 2018-2021).

He authored and edited four books: “Polysaccharide Gums from Agricultural Products: Processing, Structures and Functionality (2000)” and “Food Carbohydrate: Chemistry, Physical Properties and Applications” (CRC Press, 2005), and “Bioactive Polysaccharides” (Elsevier, 2017) and Methodology for Structural Analysis of Polysaccharides (Springer, 2018).

Dr. Cui holds 9 patents and has published over 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers and dozens of book chapters in the area of food carbohydrates and dietary fibre.

Dr. Cui was Chair and Co-Chair of the 6th, 13th and the 16th International Hydrocolloids Conferences in Guelph, Canada (in 2002, 2016 and 2022, respectively), and is currently Chair of the International Hydrocolloids Society (https://international-hydrocolloids-conference.com/).

Dr. Cui was winner of the 2006 Leadership in Technology Transfer Award (Federal Government, Canada), and the Food Hydrocolloids Trust Medal in 2018. He was also the recipient of the Research Mobility Award by the French Government in 2019 and received the Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Science by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in 2021.

Dr. Cui graduated from the Peking University, China with a B.Sc. in Chemistry (1983), from Jiangnan University (Wuxi, China) with a M.Sc. in Natural Product Chemistry (1986), and from the University of Manitoba (Winnipeg, Manitoba) with a Ph.D. in Food and Nutritional Sciences (1993).
Position: Professor
Organization: University of Guelph




Bio: Dr. Douglas Goff is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph, Canada. He completed his B.Sc. degree in Dairy Science at the University of Guelph in 1982 and then went on to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he completed his M.Sc. degree in 1984 and Ph.D. in 1987. After returning to the faculty at the University of Guelph in 1987, Prof. Goff has carried on a research program related to ice cream and dairy systems, hydrocolloid functionality in food systems, polysaccharide structure-function relations and physiological functionality of dietary fibre. He has supervised 65 graduate students and has published 2 books, 40 book chapters and 220 refereed journal articles. In addition to research, Prof. Goff has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Introductory Food and Nutritional Sciences, Dairy Technology, Food Carbohydrates and Food Colloids, and he teaches annual Ice Cream Technology courses in Canada, Ireland and Australia for industry personnel. He was awarded the Food Hydrocolloids Trust Medal in 2017.
Position: Associate Professor and Carbohydrate Research Chair
Organization: University of Saskatchewan




Bio: Dr. Yongfeng Ai is an Associate Professor and Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture Endowed Research Chair in Carbohydrate Quality and Utilization in the Department of Food and Bioproduct Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. The primary goal of his Carbohydrate Chemistry and Utilization Program is to promote value-added utilization of carbohydrates in foods, feeds, and bioproducts. His research areas include: (1) Carbohydrate chemistry and nutrition; (2) Value-added processing of cereals and pulses; and (3) Biomaterials.

Position: Professor
Organization: University of Manitoba




Bio: Dr. Rotimi Aluko is a Professor and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in the Department of Food and Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada where he also serves as Director of the Richardson Centre for Food Technology and Research. He holds a PhD (Food Science) degree from the University of Guelph, Ontario. Dr Aluko has been recognized in multiple years by Clarivate Analytics as a Highly Cited Researcher (Top 0.1% of world scientists) with published scientific journal article citation record in the top 1% globally. In 2015, he received the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST) William J. Eva Award for outstanding research and service to the Food Industry. In 2022, he was the recipient of the American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS) Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding research work in proteins and co-products. He is a Fellow of several professional organization, including the CIFST, Institute of Food Technologists, AOCS, International Society of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods, International Academy of Food Science and Technology, and Royal Society of Canada.
Position: Research Scientist
Organization: Guelph Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada



Bio: Dr. S. Balamurugan is a Research Scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Guelph Research and Development Centre. He received his PhD in Applied Microbiology from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. His research focuses on generation of scientific evidence to support food safety guidelines, policies and regulations. To this end he specializes in microbial challenge testing of foods and validation of control measures to improve microbial safety of ready-to-eat foods. During the last 20 years in the field of microbiology and food safety, Dr. Balamurugan has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and conference proceedings. His current research topics include microbial risk assessment of novel foods, development and validation of novel processing and packaging technologies to enhance safety and extend shelf-life of sodium-reduced foods. To mention a few, he currently works on valorization of food wastes, development of hybrid meat products containing animal, plant, insect, and fungal proteins; use of non-thermal processing technologies such as high-pressure processing of cold-pressed juices, UV pasteurization of milk; fermentation and dry-curing, and use of bacteriophage, phage-derived peptides and bioactive compounds as antimicrobials in active packaging to control pathogens in RTE foods.
Position: Associate Professor Cereal Science and Technology
Organization: University of Guelph




Iris Joye completed her B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Bioscience Engineering at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven, Belgium). The focus of her M.Sc., Ph.D. and part of her postdoctoral research was on cereal science with a strong emphasis on protein functionality (covering enzymatic activity and structure-building in food) under advisorship of Dr. Jan A. Delcour. She also worked as a postdoctoral fellow supported by a Marie Curie Fellowship at the University of Massachusetts in the research team of Dr. D. Julian McClements where she investigated protein-based nanoscale encapsulation vehicles for the improvement of food quality. She joined the Department of Food Science at Guelph as Cereal Science faculty in 2016. Prior to this appointment, she was appointed as assistant professor Food Biophysics at the University of Leuven. Her research focuses on protein structure, chemistry and functionality during cereal processing and the use of cereal biopolymers to design encapsulation and delivery systems for bioactive and food quality improving molecules.


Position: Research Scientist
Organization: St Hyacinthe Research and Development Centre, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada



Bio: Lamia L'Hocine is a research scientist at the Saint-Hyacinthe Research and Development Center of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Quebec) since 2008. Her research activities focus on food proteins with a particular interest in plant proteins, their extraction, characterization and the evaluation of the impact of processing on their molecular, nutritional, functional and allergenic properties using in vitro and cellular models. Her research aims to promote alternative and sustainable Canadian protein sources by demonstrating their health benefits and developing new value-added functional protein ingredients. Her training includes a bachelor's degree in food science from the National Institute of Agronomy (Algiers, Algeria), a master's and a doctorate in food science and technology from Jiangnan University (Wuxi, China). She also completed two years of postdoctoral training at McGill University (Montreal, Quebec) and three years as an NSERC postdoctoral fellow at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec). She is an active member of the American Oil Chemists Society (AOCS, USA) and served on the executive committee of the Proteins and Co-products division as Newsletter editor-in-chief, Treasurer-Secretary, Co-Chair and Chair-elect of the division from 2015 to 2023. She has also been a regular research member of the Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods (INAF, Quebec) since 2019.
Position: Saskatchewan Research Chair and Professor
Organization: University of Saskatchewan




Bio: Dr. Michael Nickerson is a Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture Research Chair and Professor in the area of Protein Quality and Utilization within the Department of Food and Bioproduct Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan (Canada). His research area focuses on improving the use of plant protein ingredients within the food industry, and targets five main areas: 1) protein/feedstock quality; 2) protein fractionation; 3) protein functionality; 4) ingredient modification; and 5) value-added plant-based protein innovations. He has over 210+ internationally peer reviewed publications, and receives funding from Provincial, Federal, and Industrial sources. Dr. Nickerson’s program focuses heavily on graduate student training to meet employment gaps within the protein ingredient sector by providing a foundation of protein science leadership training. Dr. Nickerson has been working on plant proteins for the past 18 years, primarily focusing on proteins derived from pulses, oilseeds and grains, as well as some alternative protein sources.
Position: Professor
Organization: Dalhousie University - Faculty of Agriculture




Bio: Dr. Rupasinghe is a Professor of Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals and Arthur B McDonald Chair of Research Excellence at the Department of Plant, Food, and Environmental Sciences of Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada. He also holds a cross-appointment with the Department of Pathology of the Faculty of Medicine. His Food Bioactives Research Program (dal.ca/fbrp) aims to understand the molecular mechanism underlying the health-promotional benefits of phytochemicals of plant foods, including the investigation of cancer prevention and treatment potential. His research program also conducts translation research and development with local and global agri-food and natural health product industries. He has published over 250 peer-reviewed articles, 22 book chapters, over 275 conference abstracts, and delivered over 85 invited talks (Google Scholar Author h-Index of 70 with total citations of over 16,000). His contributions to Canada's food and beverage industry have been recognized with the Fellow Award of the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST).

Position: Professor - Grain Processing Science & Technology
Organization: University of Alberta





Bio: Dr. Thava Vasanthan is a Professor of Grain Processing Science and Technology in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Science, University of Alberta. His research focuses on the value-added processing of grains of cereal, pulse and oilseed origins. Emphasizing on the fractionation, characterization and utilization of grain components such as carbohydrates (starch and dietary fibre) and proteins, he has authored/co-authored >125 refereed publications, 7 patents and delivered >90 conference presentations and workshops. As per “Web of Science” research databased, his research publications have been cited a total of >6,779 times with h-index, 48. He has trained >35 HQPs (graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research associates and technicians), who are now mostly employed in the grain industry across North America and beyond. Prof. Vasanthan has been an active consultant to grain/food processing industries and assisted them in the development of new processing technologies and their technical and economic feasibility evaluations at lab, pilot and commercial scales. Based on the technologies developed in his research lab, he founded two University of Alberta spinoff companies, Cevena Bioproducts Inc in 2002 and GrainFrac Inc in 2014, and taken them to commercial stage. He received the following major awards in recognition to his research and teaching contributions to the field of applied grain science and processing: a) Alberta Science & Technology (ASTech) Foundation Award - “Innovation in Agricultural Science-2005; b) Alberta Food for health - Premier’s award-2010; c) Innovation Makes Sense – Spinoff Achievement Award - 2016) presented by TEC-Edmonton, University of Alberta; Graduate Student Mentor Award in 2019 and multiple of the Faculty Teaching Awards - Teaching Wall of Fame.

Position: Research Scientist
Organization: Guelph Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada




Bio: Dr. Qi Wang is a senior research scientist at Guelph Research & Development Center, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). She obtained her PhD degree in chemical engineering from King’s College, University of London, UK. She Joined AAFC in 1998. Dr Wang’s earlier research at AAFC was on the study of structure-function relationships of non-starch polysaccharides as dietary fibers. In recent years, her research was more focused on developing encapsulation technologies for the target delivery of bioactive compounds to food animals or fruit trees as antibiotic alternatives. In collaboration with other AAFC scientists, her research has resulted in a number of invention disclosures, patents, and over a hundred peer-reviewed papers. She is the lead recipient of the 2021 Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Science at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

The Food Sustainability and Resilience Cluster strategic plan is built upon two factors:

Survey undertaken by Canadian Food Innovators (CFI) in 2017 which assisted in the development of a prioritized plan for food processing research and Innovation in Canada at the company level. Food Sustainability and Resilience Cluster has reviewed the report presented by CFI and adopted some of the priorities in this final Food Cluster Strategic Plan. The key research themes identified by CFI included:

  • Food solutions that build public trust and address consumer needs.
  • Food safety innovation.
  • Innovative technologies that contribute to sustainable practices and climate change mitigation.
  • Value-added products and processes for market growth and global competitiveness.

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Review and analysis of Individual Research Activities submitted to the Food Sustainability and Resilience Cluster. The activities fall within the research priorities as defined by the AgriScience Program Guide under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (SCAP): Climate Change and Environment; Economic Development; and Sector Resilience and Societal Challenges.

Based on these two Guiding factors, the following priority Research theme areas have been developed:

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Climate change and Environment

GHG reduction and Waste Utilization with focus on Plant Based utilization. The development and applications of novel technologies in the agri-food value chain for a sustainable climate change and environment.

The Food Sustainability and Resilience Cluster encourages innovative technologies that contribute to sustainable practices and climate change mitigation. With an increased global focus on reaching net-zero emissions, the shift to climate -friendly, sustainable food production presents significant sales and investment opportunities. The Cluster will develop and apply technologies that help to reduce the environment foot prints by promoting the use of plant-based proteins (versus animal-based proteins), and technologies that can use food waste and convert these into feed and foods resulting in pollution reduction. Along with reducing the amount of waste generated, the possibility of converting waste into viable added value products would be an overall priority for the Cluster.

Economic growth and Development

Since the funding principle for AgriScience is to include Strategic Value to Canada, Food Sustainability and Resilience Cluster long term vision for sustainable development growth of the Food sector includes activities that increase value-added domestic potential of Plant Based products. Plant-derived materials are attracting growing attention in food and pharmaceutical industries due to their advantages over their animal counterpart, such as lower incidence of infection and contamination, less cultural and religious food habit limitations, targeting vegetarian consumers, along with their versatility and lower cost. With its higher sustainability from the environmental perspective, plant -based materials respects animal welfare and has a higher intrinsic ethical profile. Moreover, their production is associated with less deforestation and climate changes since it requires much less land and emits much less GHG compared to animal husbandry.

The Food Sustainability and Resilience Cluster will build sector capacity and growth by adapting value added processing and developing novel food ingredients/products. In addition, the “Made in Canada” brand for healthy / functional foods and ingredients will enhance sector resilience and public trust. This also include novel processing/AI technologies with a resulting effect on improvement of food safety and food security. Each of the cluster activities under this category will significantly increase the economic growth and development in Canada as they are aimed at the execution of new processing technologies, novel functionalities and nutrition attributes which will enhance the global compatibility of the Canadian Agri-food sector in the global market. As emphasized in the Guide, three parameters are also addressed (1) participation of value chain partners (2) potential impact relative to cost, and (3) direct contribution to the other two pillars of sustainability and resilience.

Sector Resilience and Societal Challenges

With the novelty of the developed technologies, formulation and products, the results of the Food Sustainability and Resilience Cluster research activities will contribute to the sustainability of the agri-food sector, added value to the food production chain, increase the consumer confidence to the Canadian agri-food products. These will certainly improve the sector resilience and address the challenges faced by the agri-food sector in the past decade.