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Ag and Agri-Food in Canada Continues to Grow

From: Food in Canada

Ottawa – Canada’s agricultural sector continues to contribute to the country’s economic growth, says a report.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) released its annual report, An Overview of the Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food System, which provides a summary of how the sector contributes to the economy and how the sector is evolving.

In a statement, AAFC says in 2016 agriculture in Canada “maintained its position as a key driver of the Canadian economy, generating $111.9 billion of GDP.”

In 2016, the sector had 2.3 million people employed and had achieved “values of $62.6 billion for agriculture, agri-food and seafood exports.”

Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector consists of input suppliers, primary producers (farmers), food and beverage processors, food retailers and wholesalers, and foodservice providers.

The AAFC says it expects the sector to reach its 2017 budget goal and produce $75 billion in agri-food exports by 2025.

The report includes a special feature on Trends in Canadian Agriculture in honour of the country’s 150th anniversary. And there’s also a special feature on Bioproduct Production and Development in Canada, which is a growing sector.

The food and beverage processing industry is the largest manufacturing industry in Canada, accounting for the largest share (16.4%) of the total manufacturing sector’s in GDP in 2016, says AAFC in the statement. It also accounted for the largest share (17.3%) of jobs in the manufacturing sector during the same year.

Study Finds More Reasons to Eat Whole Grains

From: Food in Canada

Copenhagen, Denmark – A study headed by the National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark has found several reasons why consumers should include whole grains in their diets.

In an article (“Several reasons why whole grains are healthy,” published on Nov. 2, 2017 by Miriam Meister), the National Food Institute says researchers from various departments looked at consumers who swapped their refined grain products, such as white bread and pasta, for whole grain versions.

The study included 50 adults who were at risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

What the researchers found was “that the participants had less inflammation in their bodies when eating whole grains,” especially with rye.

Participants also ate less overall. This is “presumably because whole grain consumption causes satiety. While eating the whole grain diet, participants have generally lost weight.”

The researchers add that what effects whole grains have on gut bacteria composition warrant further study.

For more on the study, click here

Canada Looks to Grow its Livestock Genetics Exports

From: Food in Canada

Kemptville, Ont. – The federal government has invested $3 million in the Canadian Livestock Genetics Association (CLGA).

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says in a statement that it sees opportunities in new markets for Canada’s livestock genetics.

In fact, says Lawrence MacAuley, Canada’s minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, “farmers around the world want Canadian breeds of livestock, because they are recognized worldwide for their high quality. This investment will help Canadian livestock genetics exporters access new and emerging markets, like China, leading to greater returns for our farmers and their families and continued growth for the economy.”

The statement explains that the demand is high for Canada’s “superior livestock breeds so [farmers] can raise cows and goats that produce more milk, and sheep that can produce more meat.”

This particular project will focus on exporting dairy, sheep and goat genetics, which says the statement, in 2016 generated exports of more than $150 million – a sum the CLGA is hoping to increase to 200 million.

Michael Hall, executive director of the CLGA, says the investment will benefit all of Canada’s agriculture exporters. “Canada’s world class genetics combined with the training and knowledge transfer made possible by Canada’s AgriMarketing funding is instrumental in improving farming practices around the world,”

BC Fruit Company Receives Funding Boost

From: Food in Canada

Pitt Meadows, BC – A local company has received help from the BC government to promote its newest products.

The BC Ministry of Agriculture says in a statement that it gave Pacific Canadian Fruit Packers $75,000 to help the company promote its new line of dried blueberries and cranberries.

The products have been launched under the company’s retail brand, Wild Coast Fruit Company. The funding will go toward online campaigns, traditional print materials, demos and radio advertising. Cam Watt, a partner in Wild Coast Fruit Company, says the company is “so pleased to be a part of this funding program.”

The BC government says its approach is to support the province’s agriculture, seafood and food processing sectors, and encourage the consumption of BC products.

U.S. Scientists Develop a Test that could Improve Food Safety

From: Food in Canada

College Station, Texas – Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) may have found a way to breed chickens that are resistant to pathogens.

The ARS, which is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency, says the scientists developed a new test that can identify “roosters whose blood contain naturally high levels of two key chemicals, cytokines and chemokines.” These are the chemicals that get the birds’ innate immune response working. (See the ARS’ report on the new findings in “Breeding Resistant Chickens for Improved Food Safety,” from Oct. 30, 2017.)

By using the new test, says the ARS in the report, “commercial poultry breeders can single out roosters that have a strong immune response and use them to selectively breed a more robust flock.” Having this kind of resistance, especially during the birds’ first week of life, “may lower costs related to animal well-being and food safety.” Right now the industry uses sanitation, vaccines, biosecurity and antibiotics or other medications to keep chickens safe from pathogens. But, says Christi Swaggerty, a microbiologist in the ARS’ Food and Feed Safety Research Unit, some chickens have such robust immune systems that they can resist pathogens on their own.

It’s the new test that can help “select roosters for breeding a line of resistant broilers. They then exposed the resistant broilers to several pathogens. They compared the resistant group to a group of susceptible broilers bred from roosters with low cytokine and chemokine levels.” What the scientists found was that the “susceptible broilers had more pathogens and signs of infection than the resistant group. Ultimately, such resistance could mean fewer pathogens remaining on birds at the processing plant and improved consumer safety, Swaggerty notes.”

Saputo Grows its Dairy Division in Australia

From: Food in Canada

Montreal – Saputo Inc. has acquired an Australian co-operative for $1.29 billion.

The acquisition of Murray Goulburn Co-Operative Co. Limited (MG), says a statement, will complement the activities of Saputo’s Dairy Division (Australia).

To read more:

Saputo acquires another Australian dairy manufacturer: March 3, 2015
Bidding war gets hotter: Saputo increases its bid for Australian company: Nov. 15, 2013

MG is one of Australia’s largest dairy foods companies. The organization, which has sales offices across Australia, in Japan and in China, was established in 1950 and supports approximately 2,200 dairy farming businesses across south eastern Australia.

The co-operative’s flagship brand is Devondale, and it manufactures fresh milk, long-life milk, milk powder, cheese, cream, cream cheese, butter and dairy beverages, as well as ingredients, and nutritional products, including infant formula.

The statement says MG supplies both the retail and foodservice industries under the brands Devondale, Liddells and Murray Goulburn Ingredients.

Saputo says that revenues for the 12-month period ended June 30, 2017 for MG were approximately $2.5 billion and “earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, milk supply support package forgiveness, rationalisation costs, write-downs and non-recurring costs (“adjusted EBITDA”) of approximately $78 million.”

 

PEI – Cavendish Farms Officially Opened its New Potato Storage Facility

From: Food in Canada

New Annan, PEI – Cavendish Farms has officially opened its new potato storage facility, which will mean the company can supply potatoes year round.

The new facility, says a statement, is 88,000 sq. ft. and has a refrigerated potato storage capacity of 48 million pounds. The facility is split into two separate buildings with each building being 44,000 sq. ft.

Cavendish Farms is using the Tolsma System, which will allow the company to maintain consistent quality potatoes all year for use at its two processing plants on the island.

Robert Irving, president of Cavendish Farms, says in the statement that the state-of-the-art storage “will allow us to continue providing the best quality frozen potato products to our customers.”

A story on CBC.ca (“Cavendish Farms getting major storage upgrades,” by Noah Richardson on July 24, 2017) reports that the new facility will “replace six outdated ones, which are 50 to 60 years old and poorly insulated. They also don’t have refrigeration and lack airflow.” The new facility “will use 35 per cent less fossil fuel than the ones they’re replacing.”

The statement says about 60 people have been working on the site every day since construction began this past May. The majority of the workers are from PEI. The company estimates that just the construction “took 120,000 person hours of work.”

“Our government has set an ambitious target to export $75 billion of agri-food products by 2025,” says Lawrence MacAulay, Canada’s minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

“Here on the Island, our potato farmers will play a key role in achieving this target. With this innovative potato storage facility, our farmers will have more opportunities to sell their products year round, while helping to grow our middle class through good jobs and long-term employment. The impact of this new facility I’m sure will be felt across the Island.”

New Dairy Processing Facility Opens in Winnipeg

From: Food in Canada

Winnipeg – MDI Holdings Corp. officially opened its new state-of-the-art dairy processing facility creating 67 new skilled jobs in the city.

MDI Holdings, says a statement, is a joint venture of BC-based Vitalus Nutrition Inc. and Ontario-based Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd. MDI Holdings is short for Manitoba Dairy Ingredients Holdings Corporation.

The new $100-million dairy facility will process milk from Manitoba and Western Canada. The facility has a current milk processing capacity of up to 180 million litres and will produce a full range of high-value milk proteins, including MPC 85, MPI 90 and buttermilk powders as well as butter. For dairy farmers in Manitoba the new facility is welcome news. 

David Wiens, chair of the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba, says in the statement that the organization is “excited to have new dairy processing capacity and capabilities in Manitoba and Western Canada as we continue to grow a sustainable dairy industry with our industry partners. Dairy Farmers of Manitoba and the Western dairy farmer organizations are pleased to provide the milk for this leading-edge processing facility.”

The facility took about a year to construct and involved “commissioning specially fabricated production lines and equipment was completed by local engineering and construction firms, supporting the trades sector in Winnipeg and the surrounding area.”

Vitalus Nutrition supplies customized dairy ingredients. The company processes milk and whey into various dairy ingredients such as MPC 80, MPI 90 and VITAGOSTM – an ingredient that is rich in galacto-oligosaccharides. The ingredients are used in baking, confectionery, dairy products, snack foods, instant formula, protein drinks, nutrition bars and other products.

Gay Lea Foods is a dairy co-operative with members on more than 1,300 dairy farms and more than 4,000 members overall. The company processes dairy cow and dairy goat milk into a range of dairy products, such as Spreadables, Smooth Cottage Cheese to Nothing But Cheese.

Food Performance: How does Western Canada measure up?

From: Food in Canada

Food-borne illness outbreaks and food recalls tend to grab media headlines and consumers’ attention. Many Albertans will be familiar with the XL Foods meat recall, for instance. Overall, there are more than four million cases of food-borne illness per year in Canada. It leaves Canadians to question just how safe is our food. Canadians are also questioning the cost, health and availability of our food.

How well do Western provinces perform? In The Conference Board of Canada’s 2016 provincial food performance report card, Western provinces performed relatively well to their provincial peers. Indeed, Saskatchewan is head of the class among all provinces. The province excels with “A” grades in four of five categories: food safety, industry prosperity, household food security, and environmental sustainability. Its only “B” grade is awarded on the healthy food and diets category. B.C. is also among the top performers, Alberta received an “A” grade for household food security while Manitoba’s best grade was an “A” for food safety.

In 2015, the Conference Board produced an international food performance comparison of Canada’s food system to assess how the food system meets the needs of the population. The report card measures Canada’s performance against 16 OECD countries across the same five elements of the Canadian Food Strategy: industry prosperity, healthy foods and diets, food safety, food security and environmental sustainability. While Canada (along with Ireland) received the top grades in food safety, there is need for improvement, particularly in reporting on chemical risks in food consumption, conducting more frequent nutrition and dietary studies, food traceability and radiation standards in food.

Compared to most of our peers, Canadians generally choose healthy foods, as we consume lower-than-average intake levels of salt and saturated fats and have a diverse diet. However, Canadians’ health is somewhat compromised by higher levels of diabetes and obesity. Moreover, many Canadians bring home more food than they need generating relatively high levels of food waste and are comparable with other countries in terms of their knowledge and literacy about food.

When measured by affordability and price volatility, overall food availability on a national level is not at issue. However, there are localized problems of food access and prices, and at-risk populations (including indigenous people and single-parent households) continue to exist. Canada does not perform as well in other areas. For example, Canada has among the highest rates of both food waste and food losses in the world, and ranks behind all other countries for rates of greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions.

Canada’s industrial strengths in the food sector are its resource endowments, capital available to farms, crop production, and economic viability. However, the Canadian industry falls short of other countries in measures such as food innovation, livestock production, and representation among leading global food companies.The Conference Board of Canada’s 6th Annual Canadian Food & Drink Summit, taking place this December in Calgary, will explore Western Canada’s food performance. Topics of discussion will also include the Barton Report and the recommendations from the federal government’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth where agriculture was identified as having strong potential for substantial growth and export improvement. The Summit will also debate the Government of Canada’s National Food Policy and more.

The Summit will feature engaging sessions and an exciting lineup of leading food experts and experienced practitioners who will share best practices and insights with you on how to engage stakeholders and Canadians to take action, including on trade, inspiring food innovation stories from Alberta, healthier beverages, agri-food outlook, reducing food waste, the labour gap in agriculture, affordable diets, organic retail experience, the future of the grocery business, growing culinary experiences, beef and crop sustainability, and more.The goal is to advance Canada’s food performance. Food affects our lives, health, jobs, environment, and economy. Ensuring that our food is of high quality, affordable, healthy and safe to eat matters to every one of us. We hope you will attend the Summit and look forward to seeing you in Calgary on December 4-6, 2017.

Written by: Jean-Charles Le Vallée, PhD,  associate director Food Horizons Canada, The Conference Board of Canada.

Ontario Greenhouse Cucumbers Making a Splash in Asia

From: Food in Canada

Guelph, Ont. – The market in Asia is welcoming produce from Ontario greenhouses – specifically cucumbers.

In a statement (“Ontario greenhouse cucumbers find fresh new markets in Asia,” on Oct. 10, 2017), the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC) explains that “recent economic expansion combined with limited domestic production of cucumbers in Asia sparked the idea for a series of trade missions by Ontario greenhouse growers to explore market opportunities.”

The Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) worked on developing market initiatives throughout 2014 and 2015.

They’re now seeing the fruits, or veg, of their labour.

Jacquie Trombley, OGVG’s Marketer Liaison Officer, says in the statement that the organization has started pilot shipments “to select Asian markets right now. The success of these pilot shipments will lead to weekly shipments.”

The statement says the growers in Ontario can have their cucumbers in Asia in just two or three days after picking.

There were challenges in making it all work. Trombley says in the statement that regulations and logistics was one. And “getting Asian customers to believe Canadian farmers could grow cucumbers all year round.”

In 2015, the statement says the OGVG hosted an Ontario greenhouse vegetable trade show in Hong Kong so that potential buyers could see what vegetables were on offer. The group also provided educational information and technical support.

This came in handy, since as Trombley explains, “Ontario cucumbers look different from what Asian consumers are used to because we grow different varieties. We considered that challenge and hosted our own trade show to demonstrate our products.”

Growing Forward 2 funded in part the market development project from 2014 and 2015, which was “the first significant step toward expanding Ontario greenhouse vegetable exports overseas. OGVG is building on that success to expand marketing and sales in other Asian markets,” says the statement.