January 10, 2020

SASKATOON —Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) researchers at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) are members of an international consortium of key academic and global seed company leaders from Canada, the United States, Europe and Israel that has successfully sequenced the genome for canola.

The canola consortium is led by Dr. Isobel Parkin (PhD), research scientist from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), and Dr. Andrew Sharpe (PhD), director of genomics and bioinformatics from GIFS at USask. The genome research is essential to enhancing the quality and yield of the major oil crop. The project reached a key milestone in completing the full assembly and mapping the genomes of 10 diverse canola varieties, cultivated in Canada, U.S. and Europe. The genome assembly and complete mapping was done using Israeli-based genomic big data company NRGene’s DeNovoMAGIC technology.

Canola is a major vegetable oil crop farmed on approximately 35 million acres around the world. Canola oil is considered a high-quality vegetable oil and is commonly used in food production and diverse industrial applications, including biofuel. Increasing the productivity of the plant will expand its use for a range of applications, replacing lower quality vegetable oils and diesel fuels.

“Having top quality genomes of rapeseed/canola is crucial for identifying the genes responsible for key commercial traits,” said Parkin. “This will be a foundational resource for basic research that’s required to increase yield and nutritional values of rapeseed/canola.”

In the upcoming weeks, the project will also include the comparative mapping of the full genome sequences into a pangenome. Subsequently, the genomes of other varieties will be incorporated to reveal the broad genetic diversity of canola that is grown around the world. This work will be done using NRGene’s GenoMAGIC big-data toolkit, that is already in use commercially for other key crops such as maize, soybean, cotton, tomato and wheat.

“This was truly a combined effort, made possible with the support and contributions from various parties,” said Sharpe. “The results will advance breeding for rapeseed and canola, benefiting research, industry, producers and consumers. This progress also has immense economic value for Canada, which is one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of canola.”

“The broad genomic database we produced provides the fundamental infrastructure needed by every breeding program,” said Dr. Gil Ronen, chief executive officer of NRGene. “Sharing funding resources between multiple commercial and academic entities enables us to build the largest global database of rapeseed/canola to be shared among consortium members and revealing strategic paths in the breeding of elite seeds.”


December 12, 2019


Nestlé's sale of its US ice-cream business to Froneri, a joint venture (JV) it shares with private-equity firm PAI Partners, could be interpreted as a stepping stone toward an exit from the category altogether, writes GlobalData.

Simon Harvey, Food Correspondent at GlobalData, says: “Nestlé is now left with few wholly-owned global assets in the ice-cream segment, namely those in Canada, Latin America and Asia, and they, too, could soon end up in the hands of Froneri.

“Nestlé's presence in ice cream is dwarfed by its nearest competitor, Unilever, which holds almost twice the global market share of its peer. By effectively transferring ownership of US brands such as Dreyer's, Drumstick, Outshine and Skinny Cow to Froneri, the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) giant may have concluded its JV is better placed to serve the low-margin category and make up ground against its rival.

“The sale of the US ice-cream assets also has to be seen in the wider context after Nestlé chief executive Mark Schneider previously voiced intentions to focus resources on high-growth, added-value segments and dispose of operations he deems to be ill-fitting and less profitable. After all, market watchers have questioned the viability of Nestlé remaining in the volatile frozen-food category as a whole for some time.

"In addition, Nestlé had already trimmed its ice-cream portfolio in the summer by moving its business in Israel over to Froneri, joining operations in Europe, the Middle East, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, the Philippines and South Africa that were housed by the venture since it was formed in 2016 with PAI.

"Should Nestlé choose to handover its ice-cream assets in Canada, Latin America and Asia to Froneri at some point in time, the question on everyone's lips might be will it also decide to move away from the category completely, with the sale of its venture stake? A lot may depend on what revenues and profits the enterprise continues to contribute to Nestlé's coffers."


December 4, 2019


Saskatoon, SK – The Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre Inc. (Food Centre) is very pleased to announce AWESOME, a new programming initiative that focuses on the business development needs of women entrepreneurs in the food and agri-food processing sectors. 
Women entrepreneurs make a significant impact on Canada’s economy however it could be far greater! Today, approximately 16% of Canadian businesses are owned or led by women. Research shows that women, who are under-represented in many sectors of the nation’s business economy, have the potential to add billions of dollars to the GDP.   One area where women are under-represented is in food and agri-food processing. In response to this circumstance, the Saskatchewan Food Centre has taken a proactive outlook and has developed a program that focuses on the potential of women entrepreneurs. 

AWESOME (Advancing Women Entrepreneurs through Skill Development, Opportunity identification, Manufacturing support and Export marketing) is designed for women entrepreneurs at all levels of their business development; from start-up to expansion; from processing to packaging; and from local markets to international export ventures. AWESOME will offer customized business development consulting, skill development training, coaching and networking for women entrepreneurs located in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba. The AWESOME program will work collaboratively with other like-minded organizations and agencies in order to enrich and expand the current network of services that are available for women in business across the prairies. 

The AWESOME program, which is housed and managed by the Food Centre, welcomes Kim Sanderson as the Agri-Food Business Consultant who will work directly with women business owners as they build, grow and expand their food processing business ventures. Kim Sanderson comes to the AWESOME program with a background in agri-food industry consumer marketing and with many years of experience in business consulting.  

The AWESOME program is made possible by Western Economic Diversification Canada through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Ecosystem Fund.  The Alberta Food Processing Development Centre and the Manitoba Food Development Centre are partners in the implementation of the AWESOME program.  

More information on the AWESOME Program is available at


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