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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getting major storage upgrades,” by Noah Richardson on July 24, 2017) reports that the new facility will “replace six outdated ones, which are 50 to 60 years old and poorly insulated.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.”

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.

Federal Government Invests in Canadian Livestock Health

From: Food in Canada

Guelph, Ont. – Canada’s federal government is supporting livestock health with an investment of $1.31 million.

In a statement, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) says the investment was made to the Canadian Animal Health Coalition (CAHC) “to help ensure the safe transportation of livestock, develop emergency management tools for the livestock industry and improve animal care assessments.”

Jennifer MacTavish, the chair of the CAHC, says in the statement that the organization appreciates the support. She adds that the funding will help “develop Canada’s Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals and affiliated animal care assurance programs.”

The CAHC is a non-profit organization serving Canada’s farmed animal industry. The organization is a partnership of cross-sectorial organizations, all recognizing a shared responsibility for an effective animal health system.

The investment will be divided between four projects, as noted in the statement, including:

  • Up to $223,929 to develop a new livestock transport on-line certification program that will simplify, standardize and provide an opportunity for truckers, shippers and receivers to more easily access the training necessary to improve handling practices.
  • Up to $160,713 to update the Transportation Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals during transport.
  • Up to $813,200 to develop an emergency management plan for the Canadian livestock industry to help mitigate, to respond to, and to recover from major hazard emergencies.
  • Up to $112,180 to revise the Chicken Farmers of Canada’s animal care assessment program to meet the new Code of Practice for hatching eggs, breeders, chickens and turkeys. The project will strengthen the poultry industry’s capacity to respond to ever increasing demand by markets to demonstrate effective animal care standards.

Canadian Researchers Discover Genetic Clue to Peanut Allergy

From: Food in Canada

Hamilton, Ont. – Canadian researchers, says the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network (AllerGen), have pinpointed a new gene associated with peanut allergy. In a press release (“New genetic clue to peanut allergy,” on Oct. 10, 2017), AllerGen says the discovery offers “further evidence that genes play a role in the development of food allergies and opening the door to future research, improved diagnostics and new treatment options.”

AllerGen is a national research network funded by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada through the Network of Centres of Excellence program. In the statement, AllerGen explains that “the gene, called c11orf30/EMSY (EMSY), is already known to play a role in other allergy-related conditions, such as eczema, asthma, and allergic rhinitis. This study is the first to associate the EMSY locus with food allergy, and these findings suggest that the gene plays an important role in the development of not just food allergy but also general allergic predisposition.”

The AllerGen researchers included Dr. Denise Daley, an associate professor at the University of B.C., Centre for Heart Lung Innovation at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver; and Dr. Ann Clarke, a professor at the University of Calgary, Cumming School of Medicine in Calgary, and adjunct professor at McGill University in Montreal. In the statement, Daley says that “the discovery of this genetic link gives us a fuller picture of the causes of food allergies and this could eventually help doctors identify children at risk.”

AllerGen says that an allergy to peanuts develops early in life “and is rarely outgrown.” Roughly one per cent of Canadian adults and between two and three per cent of Canadian children are affected. Symptoms can be severe to life-threatening. The co-first authors of the study included Dr. Yuka Asai, an AllerGen investigator and assistant professor at Queen’s University, and AllerGen trainee Dr. Aida Eslami, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of B.C.

In the statement, Eslami says the results of the study “suggest that EMSY could be a useful target for predicting and managing food allergy treatments in the future.”

FDA Proposes To Extend Compliance Dates For Nutrition Facts Label Final Rules

From: Food Manufacturing

(FDA release; September 29, 2017) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing to extend the compliance dates for the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts label final rule and the Serving Size final rule from July 26, 2018, to Jan. 1, 2020, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales would receive an extra year to comply—until Jan. 1, 2021.

The FDA is committed to making sure that consumers have the facts they need to make informed decisions about their diet and the foods they feed their families. The proposed rule only addresses the compliance dates. The FDA is not proposing any other changes to the Nutrition Facts Label and Serving Size final rules.

The agency is proposing to extend the compliance dates in response to the continued concern that companies and trade associations have shared with us regarding the time needed for implementation of the final rules. These stakeholders expressed concerns about their ability to update all products by the original compliance dates and the importance of obtaining clarification from the FDA on a number of technical issues relating to the final rules.

Pending completion of this rulemaking, we intend to exercise enforcement discretion with respect to the current July 26, 2018, and July 26, 2019, compliance dates.

Written or electronic comments on the extension of the compliance dates are being accepted for 30 days, beginning on October 2, 2017. The FDA is only accepting comments on the extension of the compliance dates.

Students win $2,000 Bursary with the FBO’s Taste your Future Program

From: Food in Canada

Food and Beverage Ontario’s Taste Your Future program announced the winners of its inaugural student competition: Stir Up a Career. The campaign launched earlier this year and was open to Ontario high school or university students with an innovative idea for the food and beverage industry. 

The winners will each receive:

  • $2,000 bursary
  • Mentorship from an Ontario processor
  • Resume building support from Food Grads
  • Business resources from Food Starter to help them pursue their interests in food and beverage processing

For more information on the winners and the contest, visit: TasteYourFuture.ca/contest

McCain Expands Plant in Alberta

From: Food in Canada

With expansion plans underway at the Coaldale plant, McCain Foods says it has spent over $1B adding capacity to plants around the world. McCain Foods says the plant was built in 2000 and is a “key plant within the McCain North American supply network.” Today it has more than 200 employees and acquires its potato supply “from 28 potato growers in the Southern Alberta region.”

Click here to learn more about the McCain Foods expansion. 

Ice Cream Trends 

From: Food Processing

Craving some new frozen treats this summer? Innovation in frozen desserts is making frozen treats more popular. According to research director David Sprinkle, there is a lot happening in terms of new product innovation in the ice cream market: “It’s combining old-fashioned themes with on-trend ingredients, blending sweet flavors with savory, shifting from diet products to those with nutritional and functional benefits.

Click here to learn more about new and trending ice cream ingredients, flavors and packaging systems. 

CAULIPOWER launches gluten-free pizzas

From: Food Processing 

A U.S. company has entered the gluten-free market with a line of ready-to-cook, cauliflower-crust pizzas.

With the catchy name of CAULIPOWER, the pizzas are made with real cauliflower and said to be nutrient-rich and gluten-free, with less sodium and sugar, and fewer kilojoules, than many conventional and gluten-free frozen pizzas. The pizzas are available in four varieties: Three-Cheese, Veggie, Margarita and plain crust.

CAULIPOWER is the brainchild of Gail Becker, who made the jump from a globally recognized corporate career to the world of entrepreneurship. After both of her sons were diagnosed with celiac disease, she was frustrated by the poor nutritional value of today’s gluten-free options.

“I knew there was a large segment of the population that wants to eat healthier but may not have the time or resources to make those foods from scratch. My vision for CAULIPOWER is to advocate for accessible nutrition that’s easy and even a bit unexpected. The ultimate hope is for the products to help nourish today’s children so that they can become healthy adults who contribute to a sustainable and better world,” said Becker.

CAULIPOWER supports OneSun, a fund creating edible gardens at under-served schools to educate children on where their food comes from, combat obesity and inspire a new generation to love and harvest vegetables.