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Saputo Closes a U.S. Cheese Manufacturing Plant

From: Food in Canada

Montreal – Saputo Inc. is closing a cheese manufacturing facility in the U.S.

The company announced in a statement that closing the Fond du Lac, Wis.-based facility is a move to “improve [the company’s] operational efficiency.”

The facility’s production will be “integrated” into Saputo’s other U.S. facility, a blue cheese manufacturing plant in Almena, Wis.

Saputo adds that 126 employees will be affected. Some will receive “severance and outplacement support; and some will be offered the possibility of transferring to other Saputo locations.”

The costs of the closure will be approximately $22 million after taxes, “which include an after tax fixed assets write-down of approximately $7 million.”

Saputo adds that “these costs will be recorded in the third quarter of fiscal 2018. Annual savings after taxes should commence in fiscal 2019 and gradually increase over the next two fiscal years, reaching approximately $7 million in fiscal 2020.”

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,”

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.

Canada’s CFIA & U.S.A’s FDA Have Signed a Memorandum of Understanding

From: Food in Canada

College Park, Md. – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have agreed to collaborate.

The two agencies announced in a press release that they “have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will facilitate the sharing of food safety information and data, and enable collaborative research projects.”

For a look at the MOU, click here.

Paul Mayers, vice-president of the Science Branch of the CFIA, says in the statement that the two countries already share a strong tie, which “allows us to work together to find innovative and cooperative ways to share information and data in respect to food safety. This collaborative approach to information sharing builds on our individual strengths while expanding our combined knowledge.”

The purpose of the MOU, which was signed at the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition campus, is to help both countries collaborate on food safety science.

The MOU is expected to give scientists on both sides of the border access to greater food safety information and data, which will bolster innovation and advance research.

McCain’s 60th Birthday and a New Production Line

From: Food in Canada

Florenceville-Bristol, NB – McCain Foods celebrated its 60th business anniversary with the city of Florenceville-Bristol. The company officially opened its new $65-million state-of-the-art specialty production line, expanding its flagship potato processing facility in the city.

McCain Foods celebrates its 60th business anniversary with the official opening of a new state-of-the-art, $65-million potato specialty production line, expanding the company’s flagship potato processing plant in Florenceville-Bristol, NB. (CNW Group/McCain Foods (Canada))

Florenceville-Bristol will see more than 40 new jobs as a result, says a statement from McCain Foods, and the construction of the building added to the economic activity in the region. The facility will also now require an additional 4,000 acres of potatoes, which will be supplied by New Brunswick potato farmers.

The statement says “the new 35,000-sq.-ft. potato specialty production line addition represents the largest capacity expansion investment in Canada in nearly 10 years.” McCain adds that the investment in New Brunswick reflects the growing demand for frozen potato and potato specialty segments in North America in both grocery retail and foodservice.

McCain was founded in 1957 and continues to be a significant presence in the Canadian frozen potato market segment across retail, and foodservice and quickservice restaurants.The company says its potato products are made from 100 per cent real potatoes grown on farms close to each facility, which are found in New Brunswick, Manitoba and Alberta.

And from its humble beginnings in Florenceville with 30 employees, today it has 20,000 employees who operate out of 53 production facilities on six continents. The company had sales of more than $9 billion and is still family owned.

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.

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.

Canada’s Government is Helping to Expand Hazelnut Orchards in Ontario

From: Food in Canada

Simcoe, Ont. – Canada’s government is helping to expand hazelnut orchards in Ontario. In a statement, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says it has made an investment of almost $500,000 to the Ontario Hazelnut Association (OHA) “to help develop the hazelnut industry.”

Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament for London North Centre, says “Launching a hazelnut industry in Ontario is good news for our farmers, our consumers and our economy.  This investment is part of our Government’s plan to support a strong and diverse agri-food sector in Ontario, in order to create good jobs and grow the middle class.”

The investment will help the OHA develop orchard management practices “to enhance early development of hazelnut trees, develop strategies to mitigate drought stress in nursery trees and establish production techniques to multiply hazelnut plants for commercial use.”

The OHA has welcomed the news of the investment, saying in the statement that research so far has helped develop new innovations in micropropagation, variety selection, and orchard management.

Linda Grimo, chair of the OHA, says, “This new crop has enormous potential for Ontario and this support has brought us much closer to realizing our goal of establishing 10,000 hectares in the province by 2027 and creating new economic opportunities for rural communities. We are grateful for our partnerships with the federal and provincial government, the University of Guelph, and Ferrero Canada. We are very proud of the work the University of Guelph has been doing and look forward to future collaborations with both the University of Guelph and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.”

AAFC has partnered with the University of Guelph and Ferrero Canada to work on the project.

PEI Students Help Fix Oyster Industry Problem

From: Food in Canada

Charlottetown, PEI – Students at the University of Prince Edward Island have developed a piece of equipment that will make oyster growing a whole lot less labour intensive.

In a story on the university’s website (“SSDE students flip oyster problem into a business opportunity,” on Oct. 4, 2017), UPEI explains that “farmed oysters, which are grown in cages weighing up to 200 pounds each, need to be turned once to twice per week during the growing months for an average of five years.”

Some farms may have anywhere from 200 cages to thousands of them. So growers look for employees strong enough to handle the job for up to 10 hours per day, says the story. The job of cage turning helps to “discourage mussels, barnacles and algae build-up, which lets water circulate better and more food reach the oysters. This results in more appealing oysters that can garner higher prices.”

The students in the School of Sustainable Design and Engineering (SSDE) at UPEI developed “specially designed equipment that gently guides the oyster cage in a roller coaster-like flip,” says UPEI. The students are Jordan Sampson, Brett McDermott and Dylan MacIssac.

According to UPEI, the industry has welcomed the news of the invention. It removed the “back-breaking labour” from the job; saves time and money; and will help address staff shortages.

An independent PEI-based company, Synapse Inc., has stepped up to help the students turn their invention into a marketable product. The company helps transfer expertise and knowledge from the UPEI into products, services, and insights that offer benefits beyond the university.

The students have filed for patent, start-up funds and will soon incorporate their company.