Parliamentary committee hears from NC Centre Manager on value-added food sector

Parliamentary committee hears from NC Centre Manager on value-added food sector

Lyndon Ashton, Centre Manager for the Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre, was recently asked to visit Ottawa to make a presentation regarding the food sector to the Senate Committee on Agriculture & Forestry.

In particular, the federal committee sought input on the work that colleges do to assist business while providing applied research opportunities to students. The committee is currently examining how the value-added food sector can be more competitive in global markets.

During the Nov. 29 presentation, Ashton outlined how SMEs engage with the CFWI Innovation Centre by partnering on projects in a number of key areas that allow them to scale up, innovate, grow, etc.

For example, he spoke of a project with Reinhart Foods, to develop a light hard apple cider. In partnership with the college’s Teaching Winery, and using the expertise of faculty and student researchers, Reinhart’s Red Apple Light Cider was launched, and has been steadily increasing in sales month over month since it was launched in 2017.

Broya is a company focused on holistic living and eating nourishing food. They partnered with the college to refine their products, including their nutritious bone broth product, as well as to develop new types of products, including meat bites that are now on grocery shelves and online sales across Ontario.

Miname came to the college as an importer of ethnic malt beverages facing challenges with finding consistent stable ingredients. After their partnership with the CFWI Innovation Centre, they now have made-in-Canada products that meet the proper food safety protocols, which are available for sale in Canada, and could be developed for export markets as well.

Colleges are dedicated to supporting applied research for students, through co-op and internship programs, but also through the Technology Access Centre program, an NSERC-funded enhancement of the CFWI Innovation Centre, allowing the Centre to hire students as research assistants. They work under the guidance of researchers, shoulder to shoulder with talented people, and in many cases, end up getting hired by the industry partner as soon as the project is finished.

Ashton’s presentation concluded with three main points of what is needed to strengthen the positive results of college-industry partnerships in this sector:

● multi-year funding is important to build up tangible results

● investigating models that develop talent and new intellectual property

● strengthening supports to colleges to support their SMEs

Luis Garcia, Chair, Craig Richardson Institute of Food Processing Technology, at Conestoga College, was also invited to make a presentation on his institution’s work with SMEs.

To learn more about the CFWI Innovation Centre, click here.