Growing Forward 2 for Processors

New: GF2 Results Spotlight

The GF2 Results Spotlight below shows some of the ways that food processors have improved their business with GF2 funding. The featured results will be updated regularly and each spotlight will focus on new results within one GF2 area of focus.

Spotlight: Labour Productivity Enhancement

Over $30 million has been committed to food processors to invest in labour productivity enhancements. These projects (some in progress and some completed) include:

  • 319 projects to install technology, equipment, and software systems upgrades
  • 82 projects for assessments, audits, planning, and skills development and training1

As processors begin to complete and report on more of these projects, more results become available. Below are results that processors have achieved with GF2 funding (note: results below represent only a subset of the total completed projects2):

Five donut charts showing: 92% reduced labour costs, 81% improved product quality, 79% reduced waste, 91% met customer requirements, 82% had less downtime.

3 bars in a bar graph showing: 80% accessed new markets, 92% expanded existing markets, 90% retained existing markets. Pie chart showing 91% achieved new sales.

Expanding Markets, Increasing Productivity, Managing Risks
How Growing Forward 2 Has Helped Ontario Processors Reach Their Goals

Over the last five years, Growing Forward 2 (GF2) has driven positive change and fostered the growth of Ontario's agri-food and agricultural sector. Processors have used GF2 funding to complete assessments, audits, plans, and training, and to innovate and modernize their practices, equipment, and operations.

Food and beverage processors across Ontario have improved their businesses in various ways with GF2 funding. These include enhancements in: research and innovation, assurance systems, labour productivity, environment and climate change adaptation, and market development. These GF2 projects have helped processors and the sector expand markets, increase productivity, and manage risks.

Research and Innovation

GF2 has helped to accelerate the pace of innovation and to commercialize these innovations, moving them into markets. This was achieved by building collaborations and networks, conducting applied research and knowledge transfer, providing commercialization assistance, and targeting support to industry innovations and early adopters. These activities have fostered a more competitive agri-food sector.

Amazing Gains with GF2 Support

The Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre - a hub of specialized industry knowledge and market expertise - has helped agri-food businesses start-up, scale-up, and gain a competitive edge with GF2 funding. The centre has supported more than 540 agri-technology entrepreneurs and businesses.

Ontario Agri-Food Technologies (OAFT) is part of the centre's cluster and has helped Amazing Grains Inc. compete globally and develop new markets for their allergen-free products. OAFT has mentored and provided rapid response program assistance to Amazing Grains since their inception in 2014.

Since then, Amazing Grains has gained global recognition as an innovative, novel, and commercially viable product when they won the international 2016 Start-up Ingredient of the Year award. GF2 has helped Amazing Grains expand their markets outside of Ontario, both in other provinces and other countries, and sign deals with several large North American retailers.

"Amazing Grains markets both industrial mixes (e.g. ItalPasta, ODoughs, and others), as well as finished goods retail products in Canada and the USA (eg. Trader Joe's and Costco).

The Rapid Response program from OAFT has successfully been used for presentations outside of Canada which has been of great benefit to our company. In addition to getting our industrial and retail mixes made in Ontario, we use multiple Ontario manufacturers to produce a wide variety of foods, snacks and soon medicinal/functional foods. We are planning a further expansion into the USA as well as India and the Far East in 2018. We look forward to OAFT's continued support to assist us in the further growth of our business."

- Andrew Stewart, Managing Partner, Amazing Grains Inc.

Assurance Systems

Effective assurance systems help strengthen food safety and keep Ontario's food and beverage companies competitive. Increasingly, buyers and markets are demanding that processors meet national/international standards and codes of practices. GF2 provided processors with the tools to understand and implement traceability and food safety practices to expand markets and reduce risks.

Sure-fire Way to Ensure Assurance

GF2 helped build assurance system capacity by providing food safety and traceability training, at no cost, to processors at various locations across the province. More than 30 full-day, in-class workshops were delivered to 425 participants, including processor businesses of varying size and commodity, by NSF International (formerly known as Guelph Food Technology Centre).

The training significantly increased processors' awareness and understanding of good manufacturing practices, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point programs, and how to enhance or leverage existing traceability systems. 99 per cent of participants reported increased knowledge. The workshops also encouraged the adoption of food safety best practices and traceability systems. 88 per cent of participants said the knowledge gained will influence their business decisions in the next one to two years, and 92 per cent intend to implement what they learned within their business.

"I appreciated the thorough explanations on how to improve food safety and quality while reducing costs and improving efficiency of production. Being able to learn on a personal level about how to use HACCP -it was clear and very easy for staff and management to understand."

- Ontario food processor course participant

Labour Productivity Enhancement

Under GF2, processors improved their planning related to resource use, supply chain optimization, and production efficiencies. They also made improvements such as increasing automation and streamlining processes and procedures. As a result, processors improved productivity, reduced waste and costs associated with labour and logistics, and expanded their share of global and domestic markets.

Spreading Efficiencies in the Jam Business

Crofters Food Ltd. tapped into GF2 funding to transform production of organic fruit spreads at their Parry Sound facility. They installed robotic case picking equipment that automated their order picking process and uses scanning technology to read product codes and automatically report information into their database.

Efficiencies gained by robotic picking of orders in full pallet layers-instead of individual cases by hand- significantly reduced labour costs per unit of production, shortened pick cycle times, and helped reduce packaging waste and costs. Eliminating cardboard mastercases reduced packaging costs by $0.36 per case, resulting in an increase of annual savings of over $136,700. The new equipment has also strengthened the company's food safety and traceability system, which has increased customer trust and enabled Crofters to meet buyer requirements and be more competitive in export markets. Crofters now has greater ability to access new markets in Japan and Europe, and expand and retain existing markets in Ontario, the U.S., Latin America, and others in the Asia-Pacific region.

"The case picking KUKA robot with custom QR code traceability platform helps Crofters to speed up the order fulfillment process, while assuring that only the correct product is picked and automatically tracing all lot number back to the company's main IT platform. It assures 100% traceability for mixed flavour orders, required by the GFSI and as demanded by the leading retailers in the world. GF2 funding helped Crofters offer more flexible shipping quantities and formats to better service our private label customers and assure 100 per cent traceability of mixed flavour pallets to manage possible recall risk."

Overall, the GF2 funding helped Crofters increase production efficiencies to meet the growth demand of the natural and conventional food markets in North America where the Crofters brand is growing by 8 per cent annually, while expanding into new export markets like Japan.

- Gerhard Latka, President, Crofters Food Ltd.

They installed robotic case picking equipment that automated their order picking process and uses scanning technology to read product codes and automatically report information into their database

Preserving Productivity by the Jar

Matt & Steve's used GF2 funding to improve labour productivity and increase production of their pickled garnish product line in Mississauga. They completed a manufacturing audit to identify process improvements, and then implemented the audit's recommendations. They improved productivity with automated equipment, completed system integration, adopted lean manufacturing processes, and optimized floor plans.

As a result, Matt & Steve's reduced labour costs by 17 per cent and increased production output by 43 per cent. Up-time at the labeling and capping stations increased by more than five per cent. There are now fewer line stoppages and half the amount of production waste per shift. These improvements helped Matt & Steve's meet growing customer demand and grow markets across North America. These expanded markets resulted in 21-30 per cent incremental new sales for the company.

"The GF2 program has helped us become competitive in a global market by providing assistance in the areas of production efficiencies and volume output. We also want to thank the OMAFRA staff we worked with through GF2, they were helpful and have been a notable ingredient in the recipe for our success over the last 3 years."

- Matt Larochelle, Owner, Matt and Steve's

Matt & Steve's used GF2 funding to improve labour productivity and increase production of their pickled garnish product line in Mississauga

Environment and Climate Change Adaptation

Environmental challenges can impact the sustainability and profitability of the industry. GF2 helped processors better understand environmental risks and plan for and implement best practices, technologies, and innovative projects. Businesses are now able to use water, energy, and other inputs more efficiently. This has helped processors improve their overall operational, economic, and environmental performance.

Demonstrating Good Water Management

With GF2 funding, the BLOOM Centre for Sustainability has helped processors better understand and implement effective water management solutions. BLOOM conducted over twelve pilot projects at processing facilities to demonstrate water related technologies. A number of pilot projects involved a wastewater sensor technology. These demonstrations showed food and beverage processors how to better manage wastewater composition, reduce wastewater volume and strength, and collect real-time measurements to optimize their processes.

BLOOM has also developed comprehensive toolkits that have helped breweries and wineries learn more about and implement water management best practices. These online platforms, which include videos, case studies, and how-to guides, received Water's Next Awards, the only national award to honour leadership across the entire water sector.

The Science of Successful Spinach

Ippolito Fruit and Produce Ltd. found an innovative way to reduce food waste and improve resource management with GF2 funding. The processing plant modernized their produce sorting capabilities by replacing the use of cameras with chemical imaging technology. This chemical inspection process measures quantity and quality of various naturally occurring plant elements to provide new and accurate information about a product's quality, health, and projected shelf life. The project also involved developing technology to physically separate product based on identified spectral data, as well as employee training in sustainability.

The knowledge gained from the use of this technology allows Ippolito to have a better understanding of the relationship between agricultural dynamics and produce quality. The project has resulted in more accurate sorting/grading, improved shelf life prediction, a significant reduction in food waste, increased yield recovery to edible quality, and increased efficiencies to support their extensive line of fresh and packaged produce.

The processing plant modernized their produce sorting capabilities by replacing the use of cameras with chemical imaging technology

Market Development

GF2 has helped processors assess and understand markets and marketing opportunities. It has helped them plan marketing approaches, implement marketing plans, meet industry standards or practices, and develop new products and processes. These activities have helped processors access new or expanded sales channels within domestic and international markets, and increase their sales.

Nothing Cheesy About New Growth

With support from GF2, Mariposa Dairy has developed and expanded markets for their award-winning goat and sheep cheeses. The Kawartha Lakes processor built state-of-the-art aging rooms to improve the quality of its artisan cheese products. This has led to an increase in sales, new customers, and expanded distribution. The company modernized technologies to increase processing efficiency and quality control capabilities, and reduce production costs. Mariposa also created new jobs and purchased new equipment to expand their product offering of frozen goat cheese.

Upon completing these projects, Mariposa implemented a new marketing strategy to respond to growing demand in foreign markets. Mariposa generated new sales leads, established new sales contacts, and identified new customers and buyers. The company was able to retain domestic markets which yielded annualized incremental new sales of 50 per cent. They expanded existing U.S. markets and accessed new international markets, including Mexico and Europe.

"GF2 assisted Mariposa with the acquisition of a new flow divider to manufacture frozen product, which resulted in successfully allowing our company entry into multiple new markets. GF2 also assisted Mariposa to acquire vision inspection equipment, to help address one of the major issues for a fast-growing food processing company in Ontario, ensuring consistent product quality from start to end of high-volume production."

- Bruce VandenBerg, Owner / GM, Mariposa Dairy Ltd.

With support from GF2, Mariposa Dairy has developed and expanded markets for their award-winning goat and sheep cheeses. The Kawartha Lakes processor built state-of-the-art aging rooms to improve the quality of its artisan cheese products

Ontario All Around the World

GF2 invested in a trade and investment strategy that has promoted and built awareness of Ontario and Canada as a preferred location for foreign investment.

Agri-food trade advisors were recruited to work in India, China, Europe, and the U.S. These advisors provided Ontario food and beverage companies with access to enhanced global market knowledge and buyer networks. They facilitated matchmaking opportunities, market entry, and investment attraction.

These activities have helped Ontario manufacturers begin to export or expand into global markets. For example, Exim Promotion, a Toronto-based exporter, has launched products on Amazon India. Martin's Family Fruit Farm has begun exporting small-sized Red Delicious apples to India. Toronto-based Ryding Regency Meat Packers is now exporting beef to Shanghai and Canada H2O, an Ontario-based water company, has new distributors in China.

GF2 invested in a trade and investment strategy that has promoted and built awareness of Ontario and Canada as a preferred location for foreign investment.

1 Funds committed and projects approved (completed and in progress) as of September 2016.

2 Results figures represent processor labour productivity enhancement implementation projects that reported the respective result as of August 2016, as a percentage of the number of respondents for each respective question. The number of respondents for each respective question is as follows: 134 for reduced labour costs, 113 for product quality, 112 for reduced waste, 128 for customer requirements, 114 for downtime, 116 for market access, 141 for market expansion, 135 for market retention, and 140 for sales. Numbers were adjusted for any pre-requisite question discrepancies as applicable and exclude answers that were not applicable and could not be interpreted.

Note: While the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs ('Ontario') endeavors to isolate and remove invalid data elements from the data, Ontario makes no representations or warranties about the completeness, accuracy or reliability of the data or its suitability for any given purpose. Reliance on the data is strictly at the user's own risk. Ontario will not accept liability for any loss or damage arising out of the use of this data. The information expressed on this webpage is solely that of the respective contributors and does not necessarily represent the views of the Government of Canada.