CFWI Innovation Centre hosts event to help local food and beverage professionals get their product on shelves

More than 75 food and beverage processing professionals from across Niagara, Hamilton and the GTA converged on Niagara College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake campus on May 23 to learn how they can get their products on supermarket shelves.

‘Raise the Barcode’ was a collaborative event hosted by the College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre. Organizing partners included Niagara Economic Development, Hamilton Economic Development, Niagara’s Small Business Enterprise Centres and Cushman Wakefield.

Attendees listened and asked questions of Gary Macdonald from Whole Foods Market and Casey Eleusiniotis and Andrea Ramlogan from Jon Luca Enterprise, who shared how to craft a competitive market pitch to grocers, and get products in stores. Afterwards, attendees toured Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute to see how the CFWI Innovation Centre supports local food manufacturers through applied research and development projects.

“Today was very informative; I wish they had this four or five years ago,” said Joanne Van Liefland, owner of St. Catharines-based food manufacturer Wrap it Up Raw Inc. “Anytime these events can help a small business to grow not only helps the business, but also helps the community and local employment. You can always gain something from someone else’s experience.”

The Canadian Food & Wine Institute 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 needs.

“Our Centre exists to help companies in the food and beverage sector commercialize new products and bring them to market,” said Lyndon Ashton, manager, Canadian Food and Wine Institute Innovation Centre. “We do this by supporting food entrepreneurs with developing concepts into prototypes and helping them scale up to commercially viable products, all the while training the next generation of talent who is directly involved in the innovation process.”

Because a majority of the Centre’s clients are small-and medium-sized businesses, knowledge transfer is critical. “Events like this provide them with key information that they can use to make business decisions and better understand how to navigate and succeed in some of the final links in the value chain – distribution and retailing,” said Ashton.

~ Andrew Korchok