Categories
Agriculture Policy

Agri-Food Pilot to ensure Food Security in Canada

The Agri-Food Pilot is conceptualised to build resilience in the agriculture sector, which sees thousands of jobs go unfilled each year. It helps address the labour needs of the Canadian agri-food sector. The pilot provides a pathway to permanent residence for experienced, non-seasonal workers in specific industries and occupations. It will run until May 2023.

The three-year pilot is an experiment by definition and that the federal government is open to ways they can improve the program and “ensure that it’s meeting the objective of recognizing those contributions — the value of the work on farms when it comes to food security — by providing a clear way [migrant workers] can establish permanent residency in Canada.”

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino 

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said the pilot will accept 2,750 applications annually. Eligible industries and eligible jobs under the pilot are listed below:

  • Meat product manufacturing: Retail butchers, Industrial butchers, Food processing labourers, Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
  • Greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production, including mushroom production: General farm workers, Harvesting labourers, Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
  • Animal production, excluding aquaculture: General farm workers, Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers

Foreign workers fill an important role in the Canadian agriculture sector, where 59,000 positions went unfilled last year, according to a study from the Senate committee on agriculture and forestry. The report found that the number of unfilled positions could hit 114,000 by 2025.

Read more at iPolitics

Categories
Food Loss/Waste

10 most commonly produced products out of food waste

The idea of extracting valuable ingredients from waste products and processing by-products is not a new one but new extraction technologies and increasing demand for natural ingredients could open up new avenues for extracting value-added ingredients. Now-a-days, food wastes are considered as a cheap source of valuable components. Exploitation of the entire plant tissue could have economic benefits to producers.

As more legal requirements are implemented, the food industry will be increasingly obligated to prevent waste. The French penalty system (which fines supermarkets for wastage) and Italian incentive system (which rewards them for donating surplus food) actively encourages waste prevention. Similarly, National Environment Agency, Singapore, launched a S$1.76 million food waste fund. The fund aims to help organisations subsidise the cost of installing food waste treatments solutions.

Let’s have a look at 10 most commonly produced products out of food waste:

  1. Juices

A carrot may have two legs, an apple might be dimpled, a cucumber might be slightly discolored — all of this leads to ‘rejectsʼin the food system. Approximately, one-third of a farmerʼs total harvest is lost due to the aesthetic standards of retailers. Contrary to popular perception, these rejected fruits and vegetables (based on aesthetic standards) are as fresh and delicious as their perfect counterparts. By sourcing these misfit fruits and vegetables, companies are developing sustainable juice and beverage production business.

  1. Fruit flour from seed, skin and pomace of fruits

Gluten-free foods could benefit from highly fibrous fruit flours developed from the by-product of juice and cider production. These by-product flours are high in dietary fibre and have high antioxidant properties. Eg. for the gluten-free bread, rice flour and potato starch is blended with the fruit flour and for extruded snacks fruit flour is mixed with maize flour. The blending is done to balance the taste impacts as well as provide key structural requirements needed for gluten-free bakery and snacks products

  1. Antimicrobial and Antioxidant foods
  • Cranberry pomace, a by-product of the juicing process, may be extruded to produce a range of polyphenol-rich ingredients for use in supplements or functional foods. The resulting product could be incorporated into a dietary supplement or explored as a functional snack food. Cranberry has long been considered an effective method of fighting urinary tract infections
  • Antimicrobial and antioxidant potential of ethanolic extract of mango seeds can be used to enhance the shelf life and to increase the antioxidant capacity of fresh-cut mango
  • Phenolic extracts from olive oil mill waste can be used as alternatives to synthetic antioxidants in order to increase the stability of foods. Disposal of olive oil mill waste causes serious environmental problems, as many of its constituents are not easily degradable
  • Onion wastes are an interesting source of phytochemicals, sulphurous compounds and natural antioxidants. Brown skin shows a high concentration of quercetin, aglycone and calcium. Outer scales could be used as source of flavonols, with good antioxidant activity and dietary fibre content 
  • Antioxidant waste from the soy industry could offer a cheap and healthy alternative to synthetic antioxidants that prolong the shelf life of food. The appreciable concentrations of flavonoids, along with phenolic acids and other antioxidant phytochemicals present in soybean might be responsible for their free radical-scavenging activity
  • Industrial by-products from tomato processing contain a significant amount of bioactive compounds that could be used to provide natural and sustainable source of antioxidants for functional food formulation, or to act as preservative ingredients in foods
  • Similar to wine and grape juice, which are known to contain natural antioxidants, up to 50% remain in the waste material left behind when the skins, stems and seeds are filtered
  1. Pectin
  • Each ton of dry cocoa bean produces ten tonnes of cocoa pod husk waste. An average of 10 grams of pectin could be extracted from every 100 grams of husk by-product. This way for each ton of dry cocoa bean production, one tonne of pectin could be extracted from the husk waste. Extraction of pectins from the main by-product of cocoa production would not only help to reduce the costs of the production of cocoa products but would also manage the disposal of this waste in an environmental friendly manner through the use of a natural and safe food additive
  • Waste orange peel is an excellent example of a wasted resource. By volume, half the orange fruit is left as waste once the juice has been recovered. Use of technology could allow the generation of valuable food ingredients like pectin on large scale. The ‘greenʼ approach could help dispose of waste products whilst also turning a profit.
  • Potato pulp is an underutilized material produced in large quantities by potato starch factories. Potato waste could provide ‘new generation’ of food ingredients like pectin. Extraction method promises large-scale extraction of potato fibres rich in pectin and functional hydrocolloids.
  1. Enzymes
  • Through solid state fermentation, it is possible to develop a multi-enzyme solution rich in glucoamylase and protease from waste bread. In the last two decades, solid state fermentation has attracted interest in western countries due to its advantages in the production of secondary metabolites, and production of novel foods. 
  • Waste from pineapple processing could provide a range of value added ingredients for the food industry, including a new source of the enzyme bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme that is usually extracted from the stems or juice of pineapples. It has been used commercially in the food industry, dietary supplements, and the cosmetics industry – where it is known for meat tenderising, brewing, baking, and for the production of protein hydrolysates, among other things. Waste portions provides a significant yield of the enzyme with peel supplying between 29 and 40% by weight.
  1. High protein High fiber flour
  • Dried distillers grain, produced during ethanol processing has until now only found use in animal feed. The flour produced is a high protein, high fibre (36% protein and 40% fibre) ingredient that could be used as a substitute flour in a number of food applications
  • Peanut meal is the defatted, low-value, byproduct of commercial peanut oil production. Advances in enzyme technologies, coupled with new technologies to remove aflatoxin, may offer a way to produce the by-product meal, which is an excellent source of protein (containing between 45–55%).
  • Mushroom waste can boost fibre and lower glycaemic response in extruded snacks. Stalks and basal clumps retrieved from spent mushroom compost can be refined as a freeze dried powder called mushroom co-product material (MCM). The inclusion of MCM significantly increase the amount of total dietary fibre (TDF) in the extruded snacks
  1. Textiles

Forget about cotton, we could be making textiles from banana, pineapple and coconut.

  • Banana fibre: The fabric is claimed to be nearly carbon neutral and have soft texture. The material is having application in making jackets, skirts and trousers.
  • Pineapple fibre: It is used as an alternative to petroleum-based textiles. The greatest thing is that itʼs made of leaf fibres, a byproduct of the pineapple harvest. The industrial process used to produce pineapple fibre also produces biomass, which can be converted into a bio-fertiliser  and the fibre is also biodegradable.
  • Coconut fibre: A thousand coconuts can produce 10 kg of fibre. A blend of fibre with polyester is particularly good choice for sportswear
  1. Fuel and Fertilizer
  • Organic waste from companies food processing plant can be converted into a renewable natural gas. Organic waste from the plant is converted into biogas through Anaerobic Digestion process. The biogas is then purified to become renewable natural gas which can be used in the same was as conventional natural gas. The renewable natural gas displaces conventional natural gas which is used to support the energy needs of the plant operation. 
  • In addition, a high-quality fertilizer is produced as a byproduct which in turn is used to support healthy growth of local vegetation.
  1.  Molds

The designer custom-made molds with a mixture of agricultural byproducts and mushroom mycelium, can result in lightweight, biodegradable lamp shades. Mycelium is introduced into a mixture of chopped up corn stalks and seed husks, and begins to spread its white fibers and digest it. Once coated in mycelium, the mixture is broken up into particles, which can easily be packed into molds, and left to grow for a few days until it forms a completely solid structure

  1. Fats

Seed waste may be source of new fats. Fat from seed kernel ‘waste productsʼ could provide the food industry with a new source of edible oils. Eg. rambutan seed kernels provide a considerable yield of fat with high arachidonic acid content and that makes the fat highly stable to oxidation. Because of these physical and chemical characteristics, rambutan kernel fat is perfectly suited for the cosmetic and food industries. The increasing demand for oils and fats, whether for human consumption or for industrial purposes, necessitates the search for new sources of novel oils and fats. Fat extraction from seed waste could be as high as 37% by weight.

Categories
Food Processing Strategy

10 major reasons of business failure in food processing sector

When it comes to business, food processing seems to be an obvious choice for most of the entrepreneurs. There could be a considerable number of reasons for this apparent choice. Some of the prominent ones could be:

  1. Our exposure to a range of food available in our vicinity and our food consumption habits.
  2. Media speaks a lot about food losses and food wastage in the developing and developed world.
  3. A latent and unsatisfied demand because of demand-supply mismatch.
  4. Entry of new product lines or brands in the market on a regular basis.

Despite of so much of an unmet demand and huge requirements of food for consumption, it’s difficult to understand why food processing or food related businesses fails. During the research, there were some interesting facts which came across and 10 major ones are discussed below with the list of companies who were failed in the process:

1. Raw material availabilityAngas Parkwas was active in the dried fruit processing business with its operations in the souther Australia. Due to decrease in the number of big dried fruit growers, they were forced to produce less, which further led to the closure of the unit.

2. Cheaper imports:

McCain Foods (Australia)was forced to close its potato processing plant because of cheaper imports of finished products. Input costs (potatoes, labor and electricity) were steadily increasing for potato processing and that led to surplus capacity and higher unit costs compared to the imported products. Losing competitiveness on unit economics and low prices of imported products made McCain unit unviable to sustain in the long term.

Rol-Land Farms Group (US)group was active in mushroom processing business in Freetown, US. Increased labor and raw material costs with fall in margins due to market competition made mushroom  processing unprofitable, further leading to the closure of plant.

3. Regulatory environment: Heinz was manufacturing tomato ketchup, baby foods, BBQ sauce and other products in Ontario, Canada. Canada passed more stringent water and labor regulations leading to spike in prices of raw material. Neighbouring countries with less stringent norms like Chile and US had cost competitiveness over the domestic produce. This made Heinz products unviable and led to the closure of a 104 year old plant. Though this blow made Canadian authorities to think of a national food strategy to ensure Canadians have access to fresh Canadian products but it was too late.

4. Margins: Morrisons, Bos Brothers Fruit & Vegetables BV (a part of WM Morrisson Supermarket, the Netherlands) was into international trade in fruit, vegetables, flowers and plants. They were forced to terminate the company because of stiff competition from discounters like Aldi and Lidl.

5. Violence:

Stanfilco (the Philippines) was managing a 1000 acres banana plantation in the Philippines. Multiple violent incidents from armed lawless groups lead to the decision of closure of operations.

Nakashin Davao International (a Japanese company) closed down its frozen fruit operations in Davao city (the Philippines). The reason for the closure was labor agitation. Workers were demanding reinstatement and regularisation which was not acceptable to the company.

6. Consumer demand:

Ready Pac Produce Inc. (US) closed down the Salinas Valley Plant because of slow down in consumer demand for iceberg lettuce.

Treehouse Foods, Inc. (US) closed two of its plants at Azusa (California) and Ripon (Wisconsin). Declining consumer demand led to the discontinuation of the manufacture of sugar wafer products (bars, cookies and snacks).

7. Centralisation: Companies are more interested to manage fewer plants because of higher economies of scale. This concept leads to centralisation of operations with higher capacities. Saputo (Canada) closed down three of its milk processing facilities in eastern Canada and Saputo (Germany) closed down its cheese manufacturing unit in Quebec, Germany to increase capacity utilisation at other units. The efforts were meant to pursue additional efficiencies and lower costs. The process created more centralised operations with higher efficiencies.

8. Capacity underutilisation: . Economic unviability of the plant due to under-utilized capacity lead to the closure of Del Monte Foods (US) vegetable production and canning facility in Sampson County.

9. Single customer: Lonrho Fresh (South Africa) was into cut fruit and vegetable business and working on very thin profit margins. 70% of its sales were dependent on single retail player’ Pick and Pay’. Losing out some big business from their biggest customer, ‘Pick and Pay’ made the business unviable for Lonrho Fresh.

10. Dependability on subsidiesTINE (Norway) decided to close its facilities of Jarlsberg Cheese in Norway as export subsidies in Norway are being phased out by 2020. Increase in domestic competition and loss of export subsidies were expected to make TINE operations inefficient in Norway.

Above examples illustrates the importance of supply, demand, efficiencies, diversification, human resource, subsidies, trade, trends, consumer health and other critical factors in determining the viability of a unit.

For running a food processing plant, everything has to be well organised and planned, otherwise a single problem could make you out of the business.

Categories
Agriculture Education

Agriculture Training Support Program in Alberta

Agriculture Training Support Program is intended to offset costs for COVID-19 safety and training, including the costs for personal protective equipment and to remove any barriers to getting Albertans safely working. As part of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership Risk Management programs, this program will improve the agriculture and agri-food sector’s ability to anticipate, mitigate and prepare for risks that could have a major financial impact on the livestock and plant industries, or affect human health and safety.

By providing up to $5 million in support to farmers, agri-businesses and food processors, the program helps offset the cost to train new employees safely in new agri-food roles.

The maximum government contribution under the program is $2,000 per new employee, up to a maximum of $50,000 per employer. Grants will be administered on a first-come, first-served basis until available program funding is fully allocated. In addition, approximately $1 million in funding will be targeted for meat processors to provide support for new hires to undertake meat-cutting training.

Read more at Canada.ca

Categories
Food Safety Supply Chain

It’s not the food supply chain that’s breaking, it’s the meat supply chain

Supply lines across the food industry have been impacted by the coronavirus. Shuttered restaurants, university dining halls, workplace food providers, and more have all strained the food supply chain. In particular, the meat industry has suffered the hardest hit. In addition to closures of many of its largest purchasers, COVID-19 outbreaks inside meatpacking facilities have forced largest meat processing plants to shut down. The cold, damp conditions and crowded workstations in meatpacking plants make infectious diseases particularly hard to control.

On April 26, Tyson Foods Inc., the biggest U.S. meat processor, closed at least six major plants. Similar covid-19 outbreaks were reported at Danish Crown A/S, a huge pork producer; Goikoa, of Spain; Sanderson Farms Inc., America’s third-largest poultry producer, and Cargill’s High River slaughterhouse outside Calgary. The whole situation is an incontrovertible nightmare. But the pandemic is an opportunity to ask more probing questions about the nature of our system of animal agriculture.

Since COVID-19 began, we’ve seen plant-based product sales growth exceed that of animal-based products, both in meat and dairy categories. In the United States, sales of vegan meat jumped by a staggering 280% and sales of oat milk jumped by 477% in the second week of March compared to the same period last year, as the country became the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. This meat crisis has become a big opportunity for plant-based protein companies that have developed healthier, safer and more environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional animal products.

Choosing a plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do for the environment as plant-based diets are kind to the earth and kind to animals. As is the case with plant-based meat, plant-based dairy supply chains are much better poised to respond in real-time to changing market conditions and are not vulnerable to the type of disruptions inherent in industrial animal agriculture.

Categories
Milk

Consumer preference for Milk in Europe and America

Americans prefer chilled milk, while Europeans store their milk outside the refrigerator. The difference arises due to different taste/ flavor preferences of consumers and the pasteurization technologies used by dairy industry in these two geographies. Pasteurization, here means, heat-treatment process that destroys pathogenic microorganisms in certain foods and beverages.The treatment also destroys most of the microorganisms that cause spoilage and so prolongs the storage time of food.

In the U.S. and Canada, milk manufacturers use high-temperature short-time pasteurization, or HTST. HTST is efficient but results in milk that expires relatively quickly—usually within a week and requires storage in a refrigerator. That’s because the temperature used (about 161°F for 15 seconds) is enough to kill most bacteria, but some will proliferate if the milk hangs around long enough.

In Europe, another technique called ultra-heat-treated pasteurization, or UHT, is used. Milk is exposed to higher temperatures of 284°F for three seconds, decimating virtually all the bacteria and making it shelf-stable for a couple of months if left unopened. (Once opened, it has to be refrigerated.) Because it’s “cooked” at high heat and burns off some of the sugar, UHT milk also has a slightly different flavor.

Read more at MentalFloss

Categories
AgTech Protein

The Radicle Protein Challenge by Syngenta to Invest $1.25m

Radicle Growth, an acceleration fund, and Syngenta, a leading agriculture company announced the launch of The Radicle Protein Challenge by Syngenta to support the future of protein. Innovative protein sources are increasingly important for a growing population. Companies with novel solutions in protein industry like new protein sources or protein conversion technologies can apply. A $1m investment will be made in the Challenge winner and a $250k investment to the second-place winner. Applications are open through May 29, 2020.

Radicle Growth selects innovative ag and food tech start-ups for investment, ensuring that powerful, disruptive technologies reach their full potential, while Syngenta is a leading science-based agtech company with world-class science to protect crops and improve seeds.

Read more at BusinessWire

Categories
Intellectual Property Rights Trade

Famed Kashmiri saffron granted Geographical Indication (GI) tag

As per the documents, the Geographical Indication Registry has approved the GI tagging on the Kashmiri saffron, symbolizing its exclusivity in the international market. Directorate of Agriculture has been declared as a registered proprietor of the GI of saffron. In Kashmir, saffron cultivation is done on 3,715 hectares of land. GI tagging will set apart the high-quality Kashmiri saffron from the cheaper varieties of Iran, Spain, and Afghanistan.

Kashmiri saffron is of superior quality because of the higher concentration of crocin, a carotenoid pigment that gives saffron its color and medicinal value: Its crocin content is 8.72% compared to the Iranian variant’s 6.82%, which gives it a darker color and enhanced medicinal value.

Kashmiri saffron, known for its quality and aroma worldwide, has been witnessing an invasion by cheaper Iranian saffron. Iran is currently the largest producer of saffron in the world, cultivating over 300 tonnes every year on 30,000 hectares of land. Due to the bulk market capturing by the Iranian saffron, the price of Kashmiri saffron dropped by 48% after 2007.

Read more at TheKashmirMonitor

Categories
Investments

Growthwell Group raises US$8 m for scale-up of plant-based alternatives

Growthwell, a leading manufacturer of plant-based alternatives for meat and seafood for the South East Asian market, announced that it has raised US$8 million in a funding round led by Temasek, with other investors DSG Consumer Partners, Insignia Ventures, Genesis Ventures, Brandify and Mr Koh Boon Hwee participating. The proceeds from this funding round will accelerate Growthwell’s growth into alternative proteins and future food solutions, taking its vision of sustainable plant-based choices to a global stage.

Growthwell’s growth plans include the setup of an end-to-end technology centre in Singapore focusing on R&D and manufacturing. Growthwell’s vision is to be Asia’s leading plant nutrition food tech company, with an aim to care for 100 million lives with sustainable and nutritious plant-based choices while reducing the world’s overall meat consumption.

Read more at MediaOutReach

Categories
Food Loss/Waste

Washington growers have a billion pounds of potatoes that they can’t sell

Washington growers have a billion pounds of potatoes sitting around that they can’t get rid of because restaurants don’t need them. Ninety percent of Washington potatoes go to processors. Due to this lockdown, processors and restaurants are closed. This lead growers to the brink of financial collapse. When all of that shuts down, it has a huge ramification for all the processors and the growers.

There are 4 billion pounds of potatoes already harvested. About 70% of that will be shipped overseas, but that leaves a billion pounds in storage. Those farmers that can sell their product have seen the wholesale price fall below the costs to produce them.

Read more at MyNorthWest.com