Category Archives: Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre

Cannabis experts talk trends and challenges at the Niagara Food & Beverage Innovation Summit

A panel of experts discuss the integration of cannabis into the food and drink space. Peter McCourt, PhD; Peter Crooks; Kimberley Stuck and Christopher Sayeh.

An expert panel brought insight into the challenges and innovations surrounding the integration of cannabis-infused edibles to the audience at the Niagara Food & Beverage Innovation Summit at Niagara College on October 23.

The inaugural, one-day event was organized by the Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre, part of the College’s Research & Innovation division and held at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus. Product developers and business owners in the food space and cannabis industry spent the day learning innovative concepts and forecasted trends from experts, in areas of flavours, colours, and packaging. 

The panel was moderated by keynote speaker Skyler Webb, Director of Product Development at Cannabistry, a professional research and development company based in Illinois, United States. With his background in chemistry and food science, Webb spoke about the complexities surrounding the cannabis edible space and shared science in developing effective cannabis delivery systems – a method for providing an active ingredient to the body – such as food and beverage, sprays, and tinctures.

Skyler was joined on stage by experts to discuss the integration of cannabis into the food and drink world, the trends, food safety, and regulatory challenges in the edibles industry. Panelists included: Peter McCourt, PhD, a plant molecular biologist and professor at the University of Toronto; Peter Crooks, a neuropharmacologist and Chief Product Innovation Officer for Dosecann Cannabis Solutions; Kimberley Stuck, a leading expert in cannabis food safety and Certified Quality Auditor; and Christopher Sayeh, founder of the popular Herbal Chef™, pioneered cannabis-infused fine dining. 

With the legalization of cannabis in October 2018, Peter McCourt formed an R&D company to develop technologies to improve the genetics of the cannabis plant to formulate specific compounds in certain concentrations and ratios.  

“We see this as a huge opportunity. We don’t think cannabis will be any different than any other crop; the research just has to be done systematically,” he said. “Let’s say we could breed out the terpenes – the smells – so we wouldn’t have to do all this extraction, or others may want to breed the plants so it’s resistant to powdery mildews… we’ve done this for other crops – it’s not rocket science.”

For Peter Crooks, whose company is a Canadian-licensed dealer dedicated to developing cannabis solutions, he said the pace of innovation in this space and the regulation hurdles add layers of complexity when approaching formulation.

His products – 83 of its 130 SKUs in edibles, topicals and concentrates hitting the market before year’s end – are targeting what he calls the “big middle” – the new cannabis consumer. He said overwhelmingly consumers said they did not want to taste the terpenes in their product, so his company has focused on distillates (a cleaner concentrate). 

As for the future of the cannabis industry, Crooks said consistency is the cornerstone of consumer trust. “So how you formulate, how you extract, how you standardize and then how you formulate your cannabis extract … that maintaining the very strict standardization of that is the only way to create a product that will be consistent with a predictable effect of high quality and I think it’s going to plague the broader cannabis industry for some time.”

Skyler Webb, Director of Product Development at Cannabistry in Illinois, U.S., was a keynote speaker at the Niagara Food & Beverage Innovation Summit at Niagara College.

Consistency will be necessary in the highly regulated Canadian market; however, it’s something not always seen in its neighbours to the south. In fact, the lack of regulations in the United States affects the safety of products there, explained Kimberley Stuck, who was the first cannabis specialist for a public health authority in the nation in Denver, Colorado.

“When something is on the shelf, people really believe that it’s safe no matter what. They think the U.S. government wouldn’t allow there to be a dangerous product sold to consumers,” she said. “When it comes to cannabis, this is not the case. The fact is there’s a lot of really sketchy things.” 

She referred to the “irresponsible dosing” in edible-infused cannabis products, where one larger section of a chocolate bar could contain 1mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and another smaller piece as much as 20mg. However, the consumer trusts that each piece is consistent in the advertising dosage.

It is similar in the cooking industry, noted Christopher Sayegh, a biology/food chemistry professional. He said chefs might put infused butter into a pan, but have no idea how much is in the pan – not to mention that the heat (to a specific temperature) will accelerate the effects of THC.

After serving tens of thousands of gourmet cannabis-infused meals through his California-based company, Sayegh places a high value on quality and controlled consistency when it comes to cannabis-infused dosing for his guests. “If you’re going to be in a commercial setting and give something out to people and don’t know the dosage that you’re giving, it’s highly irresponsible.” 

Besides customizing individual dosing per diner, Sayeh also chooses specific strains to give certain effects for the entire dining experience. For example, during a 10-course tasting menu, the average guest will receive a total of 10mg of THC and 10mg of cannabidiol (CBD), starting with uplifting strains at the outset and ending with terpenes set to provide relaxation by the end of the meal. 

The dosing of edible cannabis products is so highly regulated in Canada, companies doing product development have to measure homogenization and potency every step of the way to hit a targeted dosage spec, explained Crooks. 

“I can’t underscore enough that having analytical validated methods internally makes a massive difference,” he said, adding there’s a strong competitive advantage for those companies who have in-house analytical capabilities, otherwise it would take some six weeks to get a result back during product development. 

Sponsors for the event included: Food in Canada Magazine; Invest Hamilton Niagara; Niagara Industrial Association; Food and Beverage Ontario; Two Sisters Vineyards; and Ontario Craft Brewers. Funding support was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

The Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre (CFWI) team offers a full suite of services to support industry innovation and commercialization of new products and processes. From new recipe development to shelf-life testing and nutritional labelling, the CFWI Innovation Centre pairs industry partners with faculty, recent graduates and students with the right expertise and equipment to meet industry’s needs. For more information visit ncinnovation.ca.

The R&I division publishes a monthly e-newsletter to keep people informed of the innovative projects, people, jobs, events, news and opportunities available through the work at Niagara College. If you’d like to receive this in your email monthly, just follow the link below to the R&I website where you’ll find the sign-up box. https://www.ncinnovation.ca/contact

Culinary trends revealed at NC’s Niagara Food & Beverage Innovation Summit

Global culinary expert Christine Couvelier was a keynote speaker at the Niagara Food & Beverage Innovation Summit at Niagara College on October 23.

World-class chef Christine Couvelier, a culinary executive and founder of Culinary Concierge, brought her culinary crystal ball to the Niagara Food & Beverage Innovation Summit at Niagara College on October 23 at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus.

The inaugural, one-day event was organized by the Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre, part of the College’s Research & Innovation division. Product developers and business owners in the food space and cannabis industry spent the day learning innovative concepts and forecasted trends from experts, in areas of flavours, colours, and packaging. 

Couvelier was the first keynote speaker of the day. As a global culinary trendologist, she spends much of her time in gourmet and grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and food shows around the world. Her forward-looking predictions in the culinary world are what she called her ‘trend-watch’ report – things to look to one to five years ahead. 

One of the most significant areas of growth this year, said Couvelier, is breakfast anytime. “It’s about innovation, it’s about convenience and it’s about taste.” Things like frittatas on the go, breakfast meal kits or overnight oats. Eggs are also being reimagined. For example, hard-boiled eggs have been taken to a completely different level with the innovation of Buffalo-wing flavour.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the one category that is continually innovating is plant-based foods. Couvelier said 42 percent of consumers want to eat more vegetarian dishes, and 41 per cent want to eat more vegan meals – a vast market considering only three percent of Canadians are vegan and six percent are vegetarian.

“It means we’re designing plant-based options for everybody, not for a narrow category,” she said. “Think about how this trend applies to all of you – whatever category, whatever product, whatever you’re innovating, this all applies to you.”

These innovations are hitting the plant-based meat category – which is estimated to reach $3 billion by 2024 in the United States. She said this popularity is evidenced by the growing popularity of the Beyond Meat burgers at the A&W chain. 

Plant-based seafood such as tuna is made with pea protein, chickpea flour, faba protein and navy bean flour, and offers similar texture and flavour but without the smell or mercury levels. 

“I suspect as we go into 2020 and beyond, we’ll see a lot more innovation in this category.”

Other areas growing in innovation, according to Couvelier: 

  • ♦ oat milk, with 2018 sales up 425 per cent. 
  • ♦ kombucha, with sales rising to $416 million last year.
  • ♦ cauliflower 3.0 – first steamed, then riced, it’s now a crunchy, plant-based snack.  Packaged cauliflower products rose 71 per cent in just this year. 
  • ♦ grocerants are restaurants in the middle of gourmet and grocery stores. Some even have live music and cooking demonstrations.
  • ♦ meal kits are seeing better flavours and less package waste. An estimated 600,000 meal  kits were sold in Canada in the first six months of 2019.
  • ♦ butter innovation: Couvelier noted NC’s Benchmark flavouring its butter with the campus bee honey. 
  • grilled cheese: it’s all about nostalgia and memories and even chefs at high-end restaurants are adding grilled cheese to their menus.
  •  bespoke vegetables: connecting farmers, chefs, and breeders to create a collection of tasty vegetables. An example of this: combining celery and asparagus to get the ‘celtus.’
  • ♦ doughnuts are being hailed as the ‘dish of the year’ and replacing buns or nachos.
  • ♦ sustainability: consumers are paying attention to packaging more than ever before i.e. biodegradable and reusable packaging. 
  • ♦ new innovations: pink lemonade blueberries; nighttime snack foods

Couvelier’s top advice in the product development world: taste everything!

“Wherever you are, taste the local specialties; go and talk to a distillery; go and talk to a winemaker; go and talk to a craft bartender and think outside the confines of your business and your brand and your category. And experience the food world as a whole.”

Sponsors for the event included: Food in Canada Magazine; Invest Hamilton Niagara; Niagara Industrial Association; Food and Beverage Ontario; Two Sisters Vineyards; and Ontario Craft Brewers. Funding support was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

The Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre team offers a full suite of services to support industry innovation and commercialization of new products and processes. From new recipe development to shelf-life testing and nutritional labelling, the CFWI Innovation Centre pairs industry partners with faculty, recent graduates and students with the right expertise and equipment to meet industry’s needs. For more information visit ncinnovation.ca.

The R&I division publishes a monthly e-newsletter to keep people informed of the innovative projects, people, jobs, events, news and opportunities available through the work at Niagara College. If you’d like to receive this in your email monthly, just follow the link below to the R&I website where you’ll find the sign-up box. https://www.ncinnovation.ca/contact

NC’s Niagara Food & Beverage Innovation Summit a sell-out success

A sold-out crowd of innovators in the food and beverage space assembled at Niagara College’s Niagara-on-the-lake campus on October 23 for the Niagara Food & Beverage Innovation Summit. The one-day event was hosted by the Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre, part of the Research & Innovation division.

Product developers and business owners in the food space and cannabis industry spent the day learning innovative concepts and forecasted trends from experts, in areas of flavours, colours, and packaging. 

Attendees also discovered the complexities surrounding the hottest topic of the day: the integration of cannabis into the food and beverage chain. In the second phase of legalization, cannabis-infused edibles gained legal status by Health Canada on Oct. 17, one year after legalizing recreational marijuana in the country on the same date in 2018.

The inaugural event was organized by the CFWI Innovation Centre with the support of several sponsors, including Food in Canada Magazine; Invest Hamilton Niagara; Niagara Industrial Association; Food and Beverage Ontario; Two Sisters Vineyards; and Ontario Craft Brewers. Funding support was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

“It was exciting to collaborate with industry experts and innovators to drive growth and development in the food and beverage space,” said Lyndon Ashton, Centre Manager for the CFWI Innovation Centre. “This innovation summit seemed like a logical step given how intimately connected our institute is with food, beverage, and cannabis from an educational and applied research perspective. It just made sense to bring industry and researchers together to share the latest developments in these key sectors.”

 
CULINARY TRENDS

The first keynote of the day was world-class chef Christine Couvelier, a culinary executive and founder of Culinary Concierge. 

Global culinary expert Christine Couvelier was a keynote speaker at the Niagara Food & Beverage Innovation Summit at Niagara College on October 23.

As a global culinary trendologist, Couvelier spends much of her time in gourmet and grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and food shows around the world. Her forward-looking predictions in the culinary world are what she called her ‘trend-watch’ report – things to look to one to five years ahead. 

One of the most significant areas of growth this year, said Couvelier, is breakfast anytime. “It’s about innovation, it’s about convenience and it’s about taste.” Things like frittatas on the go, breakfast meal kits or overnight oats. Eggs are also being reimagined. For example, hard-boiled eggs have been taken to a completely different level with the innovation of Buffalo-wing flavour.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the one category that is continually innovating is plant-based foods. Couvelier said 42 percent of consumers want to eat more vegetarian dishes, and 41 per cent want to eat more vegan meals – a vast market considering only three percent of Canadians are vegan and six percent are vegetarian.

“It means we’re designing plant-based options for everybody, not for a narrow category,” she said. Think about how this trend applies to all of you – whatever category, whatever product, whatever you’re innovating, this all applies to you.”

For an inside look into Couvelier’s forecast of food & beverage trends click HERE 

To expand on trends, a panel of experts joined Couvelier on the stage; the specialists included: Jason Mittelheuser, a biochemist with FONA International; Kaela Lewis, Senior Product Developer at Hela Spice Canada;  Ana Cristina Vega-Lugo, PhD, Senior Food Scientist at the CFWI Innovation Centre and Mitin Rathod, a marketing, research and innovation professional.

An expert panel discuses food and beverage trends: Jason Mittelheuser; Kaela Lewis; Ana Cristina Vega-Lugo, PhD; and Mitin Rathod.

As for trends in the beverage space, Ana Cristina Vega-Lugo, PhD, identified non-alcoholic products as being a significant trend and said her research team at the College has developed many alcohol-free beverages.

“Consumers are looking for a healthy alternative, with lower calories,” she said. “We’ll soon be seeing a greater number of seniors in the population and they’re more conscious of their health, but still want to enjoy the tastes of wine, beer or distilled spirits.”

That same health consciousness applies to food choices in general, she added. “Consumers are wanting more healthier choices with more clean-label ingredients. They’re looking for the nutritional value of the produce: lower calories, fewer fat, less sugar… they are looking for the whole package of health.”

During a number of breakout sessions, hosted by experts, participants took away strategies to de-risk new product introductions, taste modification and plant-based science.

 

CANNABIS TRENDS

The afternoon keynote speaker was Skyler Webb, the Director of Product Development at Cannabistry, a professional research and development company based in Illinois, United States. With his background in chemistry and food science Webb spoke about the complexities surrounding the cannabis edible space and shared science in developing effective cannabis delivery systems – a method for providing an active ingredient to the body – such as food and beverage, sprays, and tinctures.

Skyler Webb, Director of Product Development at Cannabistry in Illinois, U.S., was a keynote speaker at the Niagara Food & Beverage Innovation Summit at Niagara College.

Since the cannabis plant contains more than 600 chemical compounds, it’s no wonder that complexities are many in terms of formulation, interactions with carriers and monitoring a product that’s easily degraded by temperature, explained Webb.

Considerations in the edible cannabis space include the route of administration, applied dose and additional factors in the formulation, he said.

“A proper route can be selected depending on what your desired effect or outcome is desired to be – whether it’s for therapeutic, wellness or recreational purposes,” he said. “The number one takeaway here is to remember when you’re developing cannabis-infused products you’re actually developing a drug-delivery system, since cannabis is biologically active for the human body.”

Many things affect bioavailability (the percentage that is available to the body), including carrier oils; however, these absorption methods are understudied, Webb noted. “While it’s one of the most important things in understanding the resulting effect of your product, unfortunately, it’s one of the most difficult to determine.”

An expert panel also discussed the integration of cannabis into the food and drink world, the trends, food safety, and regulatory challenges in the edibles industry. Panelists included: Peter McCourt, PhD, a plant molecular biologist and professor at the University of Toronto; Peter Crooks, a neuropharmacologist and Chief Product Innovation Officer for Dosecann Cannabis Solutions; Kimberley Stuck, a leading expert in cannabis food safety and Certified Quality Auditor; and Christopher Sayeh, founder of the popular Herbal Chef™, a pioneer in cannabis-infused fine dining. 

A panel of experts discuss the integration of cannabis into the food and drink space. Peter McCourt, PhD; Peter Crooks; Kimberley Stuck and Christopher Sayeh.

The dosing of edible cannabis products is so highly regulated in Canada, companies doing product development have to measure homogenization and potency every step of the way to hit a targeted dosage spec, explained Peter Crooks.

“I can’t underscore enough that having analytical validated methods internally makes a massive difference,” he said, adding there’s a strong competitive advantage for those companies who have in-house analytical capabilities, otherwise it would take some six weeks to get a result back during product development. 

Learn more about the expert discussion surrounding cannabis edibles HERE

The day also included tours of the research labs at the CFWI Innovation Centre, the College’s Teaching Winery and Teaching Brewery. Attendees got an inside look into NC’s Cannabunker, the school’s teaching facility for its Commercial Cannabis Production program, launched in September 2018, and the first of its kind in Canada. 

Bill MacDonald, Coordinator of NC’s Commercial Cannabis Production program gave a tour of the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus Cannabunker to attendees of the Niagara Food & Beverage Innovation Summit.

“This event was a unique opportunity for thought leaders, product developers, marketers, entrepreneurs, and innovators in the food, beverage and edible cannabis sectors to learn from one another, as well as other world-renowned experts,” added Ashton.

The Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre (CFWI) team offers a full suite of services to support industry innovation and commercialization of new products and processes. From new recipe development to shelf-life testing and nutritional labelling, the CFWI Innovation Centre pairs industry partners with faculty, recent graduates and students with the right expertise and equipment to meet industry’s needs. For more information visit ncinnovation.ca.

The R&I division publishes a monthly e-newsletter to keep people informed of the innovative projects, people, jobs, events, news and opportunities available through the work at Niagara College. If you’d like to receive this in your email monthly, just follow the link below to the R&I website where you’ll find the sign-up box. https://www.ncinnovation.ca/contact

 

 

Research & Innovation featured on CKTB Newstalk Radio

The Marotta Family Innovation Complex was a hub of activity in the early hours of October 11, as Niagara College welcomed Newstalk 610 to the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus.

Students, staff and faculty who passed by the main lobby of the Complex from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., were welcomed by the sight of headset-clad radio hosts Tim Denis and Shelby Knox and the morning show’s guests of the day – many from Niagara College –  speaking into Newstalk 610 microphones addressing listeners tuning in from across the region and beyond.

The excitement was part of Niagara College’s participation in the station’s Business Trip, sponsored by Niagara Economic Development, which has been taking the Niagara in the Morning show on the road this fall highlighting different businesses in Niagara and discussing important issues. The October 11 segment focused on food and beverage manufacturing in Niagara.

President Dan Patterson joined a 30-minute roundtable discussion with Town of Lincoln CAO Mike Kirkopoulis. They spoke about the Marotta Family Innovation Centre, the important role of agribusiness in Niagara, the emerging cannabis industry. The discussion also focused on the vital role that Niagara College plays in the region and across the province – helping industries innovate, developing a highly-skilled workforce to meet demands of growing industries, and how NC’s Research & Innovation division is creating opportunities for students, for businesses and the economy.

“Food and beverage is going through an incredible revolution looking at the technology, and we’re focusing on food for the future; how do we ensure students get equipped with the right skills and knowledge how do we attract more business to Niagara, so it’s a pretty exciting time for the College,” said Patterson.

“Agrifood is so important to Niagara and all the research is suggesting that we are underperforming in that area. In other words, we should be doing a lot better at generating wealth. Hence the importance of a highly skilled workforce – that’s where Niagara College comes in.”

Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre manager Lyndon Ashton, and research assistant Shannon Sidney Wood, who is a student in the Culinary Food Innovation program, participated in the 30-minute roundtable, discussing research projects they have conducted for various industry partners, including Ravine Estate Vineyard, Reinhardt’s, Royal Canadian Mead and more.

Listen to the segment featuring Ashton and Wood (7:30 a.m.) here:

https://www.iheartradio.ca/610cktb/audio/cktb-business-trip-food-and-beverage-processing-1.10071242?mode=Article

The show also welcomed Matt Bonanno, president and CEO of Iron Will Raw. The St. Catharines-based company became the first the first premium raw pet food manufacturer in Ontario and Eastern Canada to achieve Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point certification, with help from Niagara College’s Research & Innovation Division.

Listen to the segment featuring Iron Will Raw (7:20 a.m.) here:

www.iheartradio.ca/610cktb/audio/cktb-business-trip-food-and-beverage-processing-1.10071148?mode=Article

~ Julie Greco

For more Niagara College staff interviews visit InsideNC:

 

Marotta Family Innovation Complex set to advance agri-food industry

College president Dan Patterson joins college staff, the Marotta family, politicians and guests in cutting the ribbon for the grand opening of the new Marotta Family Innovation Centre on September 3, 2019.

It’s the beginning of a new era for research and innovation in Niagara’s agri-food industry, with the opening of Niagara College’s latest addition to its trailblazing Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus.

On Tuesday, September 3, federal, provincial and regional representatives, community donors and industry partners joined staff and students at Niagara College to mark the official grand opening of the new Marotta Family Innovation Complex, which will not only enhance student learning opportunities, but will support the region’s agri-food and agri-business sector.

The four-story complex is the centrepiece of a $34-million investment in the agri-food sector, and includes more than 50,000 square feet of newly constructed space – including three research areas that expand the College’s Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre. New beverages will be prototyped and processed for shelf life and microbial safety in a new processing lab, and analyzed in its new beverage analysis cluster lab; while food and beverage companies can further their product development in a new agri-business commercialization space.

“Thanks to a generous donation from community donors Benny and Louise Marotta, and family; support from our Student Administrative Council; and vital funding from our federal, provincial and regional governments; our Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus is set to become a hub for research and innovation in Canada’s agri-food industry,” said Niagara College president Dan Patterson, PhD.  “The strong support for this new complex is a testament to the power of a Niagara College education, not only in the high-quality experiential learning we offer to our students, but in the strong role we play in our communities, helping small- and medium-sized enterprises innovate, which, in turn, generates jobs and stimulates the economy.”

“This is an exciting day for Niagara College’s Research & Innovation Division. The expansion of our Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre within the new Marotta Family Innovation Complex supports the agri-food and agri-business sectors in Niagara,” said Marc Nantel, PhD, NC’s vice-president of Research, Innovation and Strategic Initiatives. “It also enhances experiential learning opportunities for our students, which will, in turn, expand the pool of highly qualified personnel in the food and beverage labour market to meet industry needs.

“We thank the generosity of the Marotta family, our Niagara College Student Administrative Council, and funding from our federal, provincial and regional governments for this vital investment.”

~ By Julie Greco

Read more about the FedDev Ontario announcement

 

Niagara Food & Beverage Summit on Oct 23

 

Wednesday, October 23 2019
8:00 AM Registration and Breakfast
5:30 PM Finish


The Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre will host the Niagara Food & Beverage Summit on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019 at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus. The event will discuss previous, current, and future trends in the food and beverage industry and make educated conclusions with industry experts.

This event is an opportunity for thought leaders, experts, product developers, marketers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and ideators in the food and beverage space to learn from each other in a dynamic and comfortable setting.

This event also focuses on one of the hottest subjects in the food product development world at the moment – the integration of cannabis into the food chain in preparation for legal status in Canada. Experts will discuss Cannabis 101 and different views on how it will shape the future of what the cannabis edibles industry could look like in the not too distant future!


YOU WILL LEARN/GROW/DISCUSS:

 
 
→     Explore trendsetting concepts including past, current, and forecasted trends and fads from industry trend experts
→     Grow your product from idea, to concept, to marketing, to product development utilizing marketing experts and concept-shelf thinking
→     Discuss and learn the regulatory difficulties from experts who helped the USA legalize edibles
→     Explore barriers and potential solutions when infusing cannabis into edibles

 
 
→     Discuss the lasting impact of Gen Z and millennial generations, how they overlap, how they differ, and how to differentiate your market space appropriately
→     Discuss the evolution of language, marketing, and environmental imperatives and their ties to food and innovation with marketing experts
→     On-trend workshops in plant-based alternatives, de-risking product introductions, taste the modifications, and exploring cannabis

 

MEET OUR KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

 


Explore Trends:

Christine Couvelier is a Culinary Executive, Executive Chef, and a Global Culinary Technologist. With over 30 years of experience, this world-class chef and founder of Culinary Concierge, assists clients in the creation of award-winning food products, services and strategies that help them build their brands and keep them ahead of market trends.

Christine is the past Executive Chef of President’s Choice, the Director of Culinary & Beverage/Executive Chef at Cara Operations, and the Chair of The Chef School of George Brown College. She worked on Global Innovation for Unilever and was the first Director of Culinary Strategy at Maple Leaf Foods, where she worked on the vision, design & construction of the ThinkFOOD! Centre.


 

 

 

 

Explore Cannabis:

Skyler Webb is the Director of Product Development at Cannabistry, a professional research, development and branding company dedicated to bringing outstanding product innovations to legalized marijuana industries. His previous professional background includes positions in Quality Assurance, Process Engineering and Research & Development for various Food and Beverage companies where he acquired skills developing responsible and safe food products.

Since at Cannabistry, he has specialized in applying the inherent sensory and therapeutic properties of cannabis to infused products with controlled delivery and increased bioavailability across various routes of administration. Combining his educational and professional background, Skyler has become dedicated to developing cannabis infused products which deliver a safe, effective and satisfying experience to consumers.

 

MEET OUR PANELISTS

 

 

 

 

Kimberly Stuck was the first Cannabis specialist for a public health authority in the nation in Denver CO. She has a bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition/Biochem, is a Certified Professional in Food Safety (CP-FS), a Certified Quality Auditor (CQA), and is a leading expert in Cannabis food safety. Kim is the Founder of Allay Consulting LLC, a consulting firm that helps the Cannabis industry overcome compliance pitfalls in FDA, cGMP Certification, ISO Certification, OSHA, and Fire code. Kim has spoken at several different industry conferences including Hemp and Hops, INDO Expo, NCIA and Imperious Expo.

She is also a judge for the Colorado Manufacturing Awards who has recently allowed a Cannabis/Hemp manufacturing product award. She is a member of Cannabis Sustainability Board in Denver, the CDPHE Science and Policy work group, DDPHE Cannabis Health and Safety Advisory Board, the CDA CHAMP Initiative work group, and the ASTM Cannabis Standards work group. Her professionalism and dedication to the cannabis industry has saved companies not only time but millions of dollars of lost revenue. She continues to be a leader in the space preaching that Cannabis should be treated as any other commodity and continues to fight for normalization of Cannabis.


 

 

 

 

 

 

At his core, The Herbal Chef™ is a passionate science and biology student who turned to the chemistry of food plant medicine, to feed the intellectual side of his creations. Among the first professional to enter the Cannabis industry, Christopher Sayegh has pioneered Cannabis Infused Fine-Dining in an effort to elevate the perception of marijuana through mainstream media. These activations include art, music, fine wine and top notch ingredients, simultaneously and effortlessly educating his audience while entertaining them with culinary enlightenment. Currently, Chris consults for companies producing gourmet edibles, catered and private dinners, as well as leading the charge in culinary education for Cannabis throughout the globe.

The Herbal Chef has been featured in every major news company around the world (including The Guardian, CNN, Fox News, CBS, GQ, Forbes, Fast Company, etc) to document his incredible innovation in the cannabis and culinary space. With the preciseness of Chris’ infusions and ongoing stardome in media, Chris has already been able to solidify his space as the #1 cannabis infusion chef in the world. With a seemingly endless supply of passion and drive, Chris has his sights set on leaving a positive impact on the world through his medium of choice, food. Through consulting as a content strategist or to menu and edible creation, this is a refreshing take on sharing his vision with the world that is The Herbal Chef ™.


 

 

 

Nadine Farran-Gatti is a business leader with proven success at client relationships, and initiating and managing new ventures. She is the Canadian Manager for FONA International, a company that develops and produces flavours for many of the largest food, beverage, nutraceutical, and pharmaceutical companies in the world. Nadine has been working in the Flavour industry for the past 19 years. Prior to joining the food industry, Nadine specialized in National Account Management for Consumer Packaged Goods – Health & Beauty.

Nadine is a graduate of the University of Toronto, where she studied Business andCommunications. She also has a Specialist in Leadership & Management from the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. In her spare time, Nadine is on the Board of Governors for St. Mildred’s Lightbourn School, an independent school for Girls in Oakville, ON.


 

 

 

Mitin Rathod is an influential Marketing, Research, and Innovation professional with over two decades of experience in helping organizations navigate through various business dilemmas. Mitin has a broad global experience working with large retailers like WAL-MART, consulting company KANTAR and with leading cpg’s like MARS, SCOTTS MIRACLE-GRO, and BASKIN ROBBINS.

Mitin has led several ground breaking initiatives leveraging “user experience” as a platform to create category defining product and marketing executions. Mitin is also active in the community, as a guest lecturer and a trained mentor for start-ups helping translate ideas from the thought bubble into business blueprint on paper.


 

 

Dr. Ana Cristina Vega Lugo, Senior Food Scientist for the Canadian Food & Wine Institution Innovation Centre, part of the Research & Innovation Division at the College. Ana Cristina is responsible for managing the research/student team and resources required for all product and process innovation, food safety, analytical lab and label compliance services, and other technical service and applied research activities. A trained food engineer and scientist with a PhD degree in food science, Ana Cristina has 10 years’ experience in food science and commercialization, including in development, troubleshooting and applicable packaging science and technology. Her most recent position was with Hela Spice Canada as a senior product developer.

 


 

 

 

Peter Crooks: Mr. Crooks, a neuropharmacologist by education, brings more than 20 years of senior leadership experience in product and brand development across food & beverage, natural health products, medical devices and pharmaceuticals. Recognized in 2017 as one of Atlantic Canada’s Top 50 CEOs, Mr. Crooks has successfully led a multi-disciplinary team of chefs, food scientists, marketing professionals and product developers to become Canada’s leading food product development center.

In his career he has overseen the development of over 2,100 products. He also has been involved in the conceptualization, design and build of three Maritime-based innovation and applied research centers and currently advises several Federal departments on the future of food and innovation. Peter, in his role as the Chief Product Innovation Officer for Dosecann Cannabis Solutions, now applies his experience in the design and development of a large portfolio of cannabis derivative products.

 

BREAKOUT SESSIONS

 

 

Exploring Plant Based with Hela Spice

Learn the ins and outs of plant-based trends with a hands-on approach, leaving you with a better understanding of how meat and dairy analogues work. Compare various plant-based proteins in terms of functionality and hydration in addition to discovering problem-solving techniques for common issues in the plant-based world.

 

 

 

Kaela Lewis is a Senior Product Developer at Hela Spice Canada Inc. Her role at Hela Spice involves custom food product development for customers across the food industry, working on all aspects of development from functionality to flavour. As a food scientist, she specializes in development of bakery and dairy products. Over the last couple years, she has shifted her developments to plant based products. Kaela works very closely with clients to develop custom and innovative products, tailored to their needs. Kaela is passionate about developing food products that are sustainable, as well as great tasting.

 

 

Michael Vahabi is the Technical Sale Support Manager at Hela Spice Canada Inc. His role at Hela Spice allows him to walk the line between sales and product development, from formulation of products to being the technical authority in customer meetings. Michael has recently joined Hela and brings with him many years of product development experience in areas from fresh prepared foods packaged under modified atmosphere, frozen meals, pastry, and sauces. Michael’s career has been guided by a strong passion for food and an unquenchable desire to continue learning.



Expectation vs. Reality: Strategies to de-risk product introductions with Vineland Research

Liking the concept is one thing. Liking the product is another. Many modern consumers are excited about products they haven’t yet tried. But what happens when consumer expectations don’t align with what we know to be the true product characteristics? This session will highlight case studies from the natural products category introducing consumers to new products and product concepts and the surprising elements that caught consumers’ attention.

 

 

 

Dr. Alexandra Grygorczyk is a Research Scientist in Consumer Insights at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. She completed her Ph.D. in food science prior to joining Vineland, where she conducts sensory and consumer research and contract testing for the food and horticulture industries. Dr. Grygorczyk is a regular speaker at industry and scientific conferences and her work has been featured in news outlets such as the Toronto Star, FreshPlaza, FloralDaily and locally through the St. Catharines Standard.

 

 

 

Dr. Amy Bowen is the Research Director of Consumer Insights at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Ontario, Canada. She oversees the operation of Vineland’s trained sensory and consumer research panels to understand the drivers that impact consumer preference and choice for horticultural products. Amy leads a team of researchers to create value-added results to inform breeding programs, brand development, new variety introductions, and commercialization.


 

Taste the Modification with Fona

Exploring the 3 M’s: The challenging Functional Bases require tools that are specifically formulated to mask, modify and add mouthfeel.

 

Nadine Farran-Gatti is a business leader with proven success at client relationships, and initiating and managing new ventures. She is the Canadian Manager for FONA International, a company that develops and produces flavours for many of the largest food, beverage, nutraceutical, and pharmaceutical companies in the world. Nadine has been working in the Flavour industry for the past 19 years. Prior to joining the food industry, Nadine specialized in National Account Management for Consumer Packaged Goods – Health & Beauty.

 

 

Jason Mittelheuser began his career at FONA International in 2009.  Since that time, he has made significant contributions to the organization with Research and Innovation in taste modification.  His experience carried him over to Applications, where he has worked on beverages, OTC, savory applications.  He is a faculty member of Flavor University, where he presents on areas including Taste Modification, Performance Nutrition, and Dairy/Dairy Alternatives.  Jason has a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Northern Illinois University.



 

Exploring Cannabis from a higher education prospective with
Niagara College

Niagara College is leading the way in Canada education; understand what is being taught to the future leaders of this exploding industry and tour the facility.

 

Bill is a professor at Niagara College where he is coordinator of the newly created Commercial Cannabis Production programs. His area of specialization is plant nutrition, but all aspects of controlled environment plant production has been a focus of his teaching, research and industry experience. Prior to teaching at Niagara College he was involved in the greenhouse industry for more than 25 years as an owner/grower/manager, including being production manager of a 450,000 sq. ft. greenhouse in Nova Scotia and owning and operating a one-acre greenhouse in Fenwick, ON.

 

 

 

 

Alan Unwin worked as an environmental consultant for numerous years both in the fields of Waste Management and Ecological Restoration before joining Niagara College in 1995 as a full-time faculty member. Through this work, Alan has gained extensive international experience in Argentina, Ecuador, India, Sri Lanka, Jordan and Thailand. In September of 2011, Alan became the Associate Dean for the School of Environmental and Horticultural Studies.

 

 

* TOUR THE CAMPUS (OPTIONAL):

Tour Niagara College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus; a 125-acre campus featuring the NC Teaching Brewery, Teaching Winery, Teaching Distillery, Teaching Greenhouse, Benchmark Restaurant and the NC Teaching Spa. The campus is a nature forward environment with its own ecological lagoons, wetland systems, hop yard, culinary garden, landscaped gardens and a 40-acre teaching vineyard. This campus is also home to the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre, which offers a full suite of services to support innovation in the industry on the road to commercialization of new products and processes.

To register, click here: niagarafoodandbeveragesummit.eventbrite.ca