Industry and consumer focused innovation drives Vineland success
Vineland Research and Innovation Centre building
By Lilian Schaer
Vineland – It’s been 10 years since a new horticultural research facility in Niagara Region was launched as the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland).
Since then, Vineland has been turning heads across Canada and internationally with its needs-based innovations. The organization reflects the entire horticulture value chain from farmers to consumers, and they’re not afraid to take big steps to help the industry solve problems.
“We started by understanding what needed to be done and how we needed to work to make a difference, which is real results with real impact from acres in the field to shelf space in the store,” says Vineland’s CEO, Dr. Jim Brandle.
Asian eggplants at Vineland
Addressing the labour intensive nature of horticultural production was a need identified early on. Today, machines designed in Vineland’s robotics program and built in Ontario are coming into use in fruit and vegetable greenhouses, which Brandle says will go a long way in helping to keep growers competitive, as well as boost the local manufacturing and automation sector. Continue reading →
Harriston ON – Harriston Packing Company Ltd. is a testament to the old adage that the customer is always right.
As the small town family business celebrates 50 years this year, second generation co-owner Mark Oelschlagel says listening to his customers has been the key to growth, especially in recent years. Over the past decade, local food trends and changing customer buying habits have shaped a new direction for the meat processing and retail company.
Today, the family business located in Harriston, ON is stronger than ever. Oelschlagel continues adjusting the company business model to keep up with his customers, and his results are paying off.
“Direct-to-customer wholesale and retail sales have grown six times in the past ten years,” says Oelschlagel, who is also seeing the trend extend to custom processing for farmers as farm gate sales increase. Continue reading →
New Liskeard – There’s a world of difference between farming in northern and southern Ontario. The climate, soils, and available infrastructure in the north mean farmers have different innovation and research needs than their more southern neighbours.
The Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC) recognizes the unique challenges and opportunities of northern Ontario farmers. Through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, AAC has secured cost-share funds for five northern-focused innovation projects headed by the Northern Ontario Farm Innovation Alliance (NOFIA).
“There is a major difference not only between northern Ontario and rest of the province, but also between the regions of northern Ontario, which is geographically huge,” explains NOFIA Administrator Steph Vanthof. “This is one of the reasons it is so important to maintain agricultural research and innovation for the north.” Continue reading →
Dutton – Ontario beef farmers are taking ‘local’ online to reach new customers.
Farm to City, a new marketing model with a web-based ordering system, is opening up direct-to-customer marketing opportunities for beef farmers such as Rob and Maryjo Tait, of Celtic Ridge Farms.
The young farm family recently launched the online ordering system and was thrilled by the response from customers.
“We knew our farm meat products needed an online presence,” said Rob. “Our customers are shopping, researching and sharing their food experiences online. The Farm to City online model is attracting new customers and opening up new opportunities for us.” Continue reading →
Beamsville – Health-conscious Canadians know a low glycemic index (GI) diet with fewer processed foods is an effective way to manage weight. Now, a Canadian pet food company is applying those same priorities to pets.
Dan Stevenson, president of Ontario-based Boréal Pet Food, says the idea for a new line of cat and dog food came from a desire to go back-to-basics for Canadian pets.
He and his brother Hugh Stevenson, a veterinarian, have built a line of canned and dried food products for cats and dogs that use low-carb Canadian ingredients.
Stevenson spent more than 15 years in the pet food industry before starting his own line. He says he didn’t see enough pet foods taking a low GI approach for the average pet – and it was taking a toll on animal health.
“Too many pets are consuming high-carb diets because they’re eating food with high amounts of corn, wheat, rice and potato, and it contributes to skin allergies, obesity, diabetes and poor pet health,” says Stevenson. “Low GI foods slow digestion, keeping pets fuller for longer.” Continue reading →