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Winnipeg, 19 July 2019 – A new Canadian Food Innovators Network is being established to boost collaboration, innovation and commercialization in Canada’s food and beverage manufacturing sector.

Federal funding was announced today by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) as part of the automation and digital technologies pillar of its Strategic Innovation Fund, and will be enhanced by an additional investment from industry. The project will be delivered by the Canadian Food Innovators – Innovateurs canadiens en alimentation (CFI-ICA).

“Canada’s food and beverage processing sector employs tens of thousands of middle-class workers across Canada. Our government is proud to support the efforts of the Canadian Food Innovators Network to drive innovation in this important sector, which will help businesses adopt new technologies, bring exciting new products to market, and ensure continued growth and job creation,” says Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

“We appreciate the confidence the federal government has shown in Canada’s food and beverage manufacturing sector,” says CFI Chair Joe Lake, Director of Innovation & Research at McCain Foods Limited. “Agriculture and food has been identified as one of the biggest drivers of growth for the Canadian economy and this funding will help us respond to evolving global demands for innovative food products and technologies.”

Two years ago, CFI-ICA undertook an extensive cross-country consultation with food and beverage manufacturing sector stakeholders about needs and opportunities in the sector. Overwhelmingly, participants in every region identified the need for a national food and beverage manufacturing innovation network that can provide resources, connections to innovation experts and research centres, and support for activities often not covered through existing innovation and commercialization infrastructure and programming.

“This new network is a direct response to that need and one of the tools the sector will need to help Canada meet its global agri-food export goals,” adds Lake. “Our goal is to achieve the best outcomes and greatest impacts for Canadian food and beverage manufacturers to help them flourish and let Canada shine on the global stage.” 

The network will connect existing agri-food innovation centres with Canada’s food firms to develop and scale up new products, processes, technologies and digital solutions in the sector. It will also establish a national team of skilled concierge ambassadors to broker innovation projects, encourage collaboration with other sectors, and support collaboration between food businesses of all stages and maturities from small start-ups to publicly traded multi-nationals. 

“By fostering technology adoption and innovation in our food and beverage processing sector, our government is helping to ensure the industry continues to punch above its weight and be a source of well-paying jobs across Canada,” says Jim Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification. “The Canadian Food Innovators Network will bring exciting changes to a dynamic industry, meaning more innovative, healthy and sustainable food and beverage products for Canadians.”

The Canadian Food Innovators – Innovateurs Canadiens en alimentation was established in 2013 as an industry-led initiative for Canada’s food and beverage manufacturing sector to access innovation funding and successfully delivered the country’s first food processing research cluster. More information about CFI-ICA and the new network is available at www.canadianfoodinnovators.ca.

 
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July 22, 2019

Canadian Manufacturers Prioritizing Investment in Technology and New Markets in Response to Canada-US Trade Relationship, Sage Research Finds
Canadian manufacturers fight back in face of fluctuating trade regulations affecting business, but remain confident thanks to investments in technology

Highlights:

  • 58% Canadian process manufacturers consider expanding into new geographies and markets a priority
  • 49% of respondents say that changes to CUSMA (formerly NAFTA) are affecting their business
  • 89% admit that changes to import/export conditions are having a “high” or “very high” impact on their strategic decision-making


Richmond, B.C. (July 17, 2019)
 –– Sage, the market leader in cloud business management solutions, today released the Canadian findings from its global survey of more than 900 process manufacturers[1]. Almost half of Canadian respondents (49%) to the survey said that pending regulatory changes introduced by the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA – formerly NAFTA) are affecting their business. In addition, 89 per cent regard the fluctuating import-export regulations as having a “high” or “very high” impact on their strategic decision-making.

Despite this challenging business environment, Canada’s process manufacturers remain confident in their ability to control their own destiny, with 86 per cent reporting that they expect to be industry leaders by 2025. Their top three priorities for driving this future success are emerging technology (59%), expansion into new geographies and markets (58%), and research and development of new products and solutions (54%).

The industry’s overall optimism is consistent with the results of Sage’s recent We Power the Nation survey, which found that despite citing “political uncertainty” as the largest barrier to investing in international trade, 64 per cent of Canadian businesses expect the amount of trade with customers and suppliers to increase next year – a higher percentage than their counterparts in either the U.S. (56%) or U.K (49%).

“Despite the headwind that Canadian manufacturers acknowledge, our research reveals a sector more technologically-savvy and confident in its position of international leadership than ever,” said Paul Struthers, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, Sage Canada. “With the Fourth Industrial Revolution in full swing, Canada’s manufacturers are taking full advantage of the technologies and skills they need to excel, with half saying uncertainty around CUSMA is making them more likely to invest in technology.”

An Industry in Transition

The report, entitled “Riding the wave of uncertainty: How process manufacturers are planning for a brighter future in 2019,” depicts an industry aware of its own digital transformation, with 62% of Canadian respondents expecting emerging technologies such as robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), and automation to be the development with the greatest impact on their industry in the next five years

Other key findings from the report include:

  • 68% of respondents said they had recent or mature deployments of on-premises enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, with an additional 25% of respondents planned to deploy on-premises ERP software in the future
  • 55% had recent or mature deployments of cloud-based ERP software (with an additional 32% planning to deploy it in the future)
  • 50% reported implementing advanced and predictive data analytics (with an additional 42% planning to do so in the future)
  • 47% reported implementing automation and robotics (with an additional 43% planning to do so in the future),
  • 46% reported using IoT (with an additional 44% planning to do so in the future).

“We are encouraged by the industry’s plans to invest in and deploy AI, automation, robotics and other emerging technologies,” Struthers said. “That so many of Canada’s process manufacturers are already taking advantage of the gains technology offers in terms of productivity and efficiency shows that Industry 4.0 is a robust, quickly levelling playing field.”

Methodology

Questions were asked on a wide range of subjects including business plans and technology adoption, and fielded in American English, British English, and Canadian English and French. A total of 906 qualified individuals (302 in the U.K., 303 in the U.S. and 301 in Canada) completed the questions they were asked. They all had decision-making responsibility at mid-sized manufacturing businesses in an IT or business role.

 


[1] Process manufacturers surveyed included mid-sized manufacturing companies across different industries, including food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, gasoline, oil, plastics and more.

 
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July 17, 2019

Products we commonly buy at the supermarket, such as tortillas and corn chips, are made from food grade corn. The corn is grown, harvested, bought by a food company, turned into masa (dough from ground corn) through a chemical process, and then made into our favorite products.

Each of these important steps has implications for the next — and some scientists are calling for more research to make each step better to benefit both companies and consumers.

“Breeding, production, and processing of food grade corn is a massive industry,” explains Candice Hirsch from University of Minnesota. “Yet, there is limited knowledge on each of these steps.”

She adds that each step of this value chain spans many scientific areas. This results in the information being spread across scientists who don’t regularly communicate with each other. To start tackling this problem, Hirsch and her team reviewed knowledge on making corn into food products. They used information from both universities and industry.  

The researchers laid out the importance of corn quality and masa quality. Hirsch says that the breeding of food grade corn receives relatively few resources. However, this corn is made into products we eat. Better quality corn will provide a better product to consumers.

Better corn would have a higher yield, costing companies less money and possibly making the product cheaper. It could also increase the quality and consistency of the products we buy.

The hardness of the corn kernels, for example, is important. It can affect how well the corn ships and how many of the kernels crack during shipping. These cracks then affect the moisture uptake while the masa is being made.

Combined with other qualities of the kernel, such as starch levels, the amount of moisture taken up by the ground corn can impact the masa.

“The quality of grain and masa is extremely important to the final product quality,” Hirsch explains. “If the consistency of the masa is not correct, there will be consequences for the texture and taste of the final products.”

Hirsch and her colleagues would like to see researchers explore all of these areas to better understand how to breed and grow the best corn for making high quality masa. The work would involve plant breeders, agronomists, chemists, food scientists, production specialists, and many others.

“Ideally we would like to determine which attributes are best to allow us to breed better corn, and also come up with methods to be able to quickly test these attributes,” Hirsch says. “Another application is doing screening so companies buying corn can determine if a shipment has the necessary attributes to make a high-quality product.”

She adds that the collaboration between University of Minnesota, PepsiCo, and Corteva was critical in reviewing research in this area. In working together, they were able to define what was known and unknown across the value chain, and how to fill the gaps.

Additionally, the public is interested in this work because we like to know where our food comes from. The researchers’ review provides a look at how corn chips are made. It also identifies factors that affect taste, texture, and nutritional aspects of chips.

“I have worked in a number of research activities that involve improving raw plant material for direct human consumption,” Hirsch says. “I find it very rewarding. It is very relatable to the general public, which makes it a great way to connect with people.”

Read more about this work in Crop Science. This research was supported in part by the Frito Lay Fellowship, PepsiCo, Inc. Any opinions or scientific interpretations are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of PepsiCo, Inc.

 
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ROCHESTER, N.Y., July 15, 2019 – DuPont (NYSE: DD) today announced the opening of a new state-of-the-art probiotics fermentation unit at its Rochester, New York, facility. Construction of the unit was completed in March as part of an overall $100MM investment to expand probiotics capacity. The facility is now producing high-quality probiotics for the dietary supplement and food and beverage industries, which have the potential to provide health benefits to consumers of all ages.

“The investment in our Rochester probiotics operation furthers our strategy to provide health and nutrition science solutions to this growing market,” said DuPont CEO Marc Doyle. “With the completion of this facility, we have the largest fermenter in the world dedicated to probiotics production, which enhances our ability to provide customers and consumers with high quality, clinically-documented strains that will positively impact people’s health now and in the future.”

 The state-of-the-art facility incorporates several new production innovations, including:

  • The world’s largest fermenter for probiotics production and its downstream processing.
  • A built-in, fully automated system of sensors and monitors that helps maintain optimal growing conditions, removing the need to take traditional manual samples.
  • Pressurized air technology to mix fermenting solutions, replacing traditional pumps and mixing blades that can damage bacteria.
  • New bacteria freezing technology for safe storage of the probiotics that significantly increases efficiency.

In addition to the company’s capital investment, construction of the fermentation unit was supported by an Upstate Revitalization Initiative Grant provided by Empire State Development. 

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said,"Supporting the growth of innovative companies like DuPont, with its new probiotics fermentation unit at Eastman Business Park, reinforces the strength of the region’s agriculture and food ecosystem and reflects our strategic focus on recruiting and retaining food production businesses that drive economic development in the Finger Lakes.”

“We deeply appreciate the support from the state of New York as we launch this industry leading endeavor,” said Matthias Heinzel, President of DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences. “We’re proud to be part of the Rochester community and to expand our footprint at the Eastman Business Park. This investment represents our deep commitment to driving innovation through probiotic research and manufacturing.”

DuPont develops and produces a wide range of clinically-documented probiotic strains for products sold globally. In the United States alone, more than 16 million U.S. households are purchasing probiotics, which deliver a variety of functional health benefits – from digestive and immune health to promising advancements in weight management and even cognitive health. Specifically, HOWARU® Shape – which is part of the DuPont™ Danisco® portfolio – most recently won “Ingredient of the Year for Weight Management” at the NutraIngredients Asia Awards.

 

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