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Bioenterprise B.C. hosts Vancouvers First Agri-Tech Pitch Night

Posted on October 25 2017 | Author: Jessica Taylor

Agri-tech and agri-food companies from across the Lower Mainland came together on October 18th for Vancouver’s first Agri-tech Pitch Night! The event was co-hosted by Bioenterprise B.C. and Volition Events to provide companies with the opportunity to receive feedback and coaching on their 3-minute pitch.

“This was a great opportunity to showcase British Columbia’s growing agri-tech and food sector,” said Jessica Taylor, A/Regional Manager of Bioenterprise B.C. “ The sector is growing rapidly and B.C. has such a unique ecosystem of support for these types of ventures. Companies need more opportunities like this for both feedback and exposure.”

It’s not often that entrepreneurs have the chance to practice their pitch in front of an expert panel and receive constructive criticism and recommendations.  Each panellist provided a unique perspective, and while feedback varied they provided some great tips that entrepreneurs should remember:

1. Bait the Hook: whether you have 5 minutes or 30 seconds, your pitch is meant to pique the interest of investors and other potential partners. Don’t worry about telling them all of the details, that’s what the follow-up conversation is for.

2. Ask!: Whether or not you are doing a raise be sure to let the audience know what you are looking for. Do you need a mentor? Connections to strategic partners?

3. Be Clear: Make sure that your innovation, competitive advantage, and ask are all very apparent to the audience. Practice and receive feedback as often as possible.

 

The pitch night brought together several companies within the ag-tech sector, including:  500 Foods, Burnaby Organic Greenhouse, Coast Protein, Compy, Hagensborg Chosolates (Truffle Pig), MyFoods Market, NuWave Research Inc., and Wise Bites.

Winners from Pitch Night were selected by an audience vote following the company pitches. The top three placing’s included:

 

Sustainable cricket protein powders and bars

 

 

Sustainable and ethically sourced chocolates

 

                    

On-site solutions in vacuum microwave dehydration for food






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Implementing a New App in Your Business

Posted on August 09 2017 | Author: Jessica Taylor

Now that you’ve decided what app is best for your business it’s time to implement!  [If you haven’t yet, check out my earlier blog, “Finding the Right App for Your Business”]

1. Start Small

Identify a few volunteers to be the early adopters of the technology. If your company is large enough, have employees in different departments pilot the app. Testing the waters with a pilot program will allow you to work out any kinks and identify issues without causing chaos for your team.

2. Have Ambassadors

Once you, and your pilot team, are confident that you understand how to use the app effectively within your business you are ready to bring everyone else on board. The pilot team can now act as ambassadors for the program, pairing an experienced user with a new user can allow for dialogue and training opportunities. As a bonus, this provides more junior employees training experience. Finally, the ambassadors can troubleshoot issues as they arise alleviating you of this responsibility.

3. Gather Feedback

Plan regular touch points with the ambassadors so you can identify common problems employees are having with the adoption. Gathering feedback will help you to understand timelines for when the team will be fully transitioned to the app. The anonymity of employee feedback caused by having your ambassador team compile feedback can be very helpful. If your team believes you hand selected and believe in this app they may be more reluctant to provide critical and candid feedback.

4. Be patient

Remember that you are changing the way people work which is not an easy task. Be patient with your team and actively listen to their feedback. Ultimately you want to make your team more efficient, and happy employees are much more apt to be productive and effective. The upfront investment in implementing a new app the right way will pay off in spades.

Now – go, implement and be more efficient than ever! 

Jessica Taylor 
Acting Regional Manager & Senior Analyst, Bioenterprise BC






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Finding the Right App for Your Business

Posted on March 14 2017 | Author: Jessica Taylor

Time is money. Money sustains our businesses. So it is no surprise that, as business leaders, we are constantly trying to fit more into less time. We strive to be as productive as possible in both our personal and professional lives, and as our organizations grow, we quickly realize how important productivity is to team success as well.

Many tech companies, some new like Slack and Trello, and some household names, such as Google and Apple, have capitalized on our desire to be as efficient as possible by creating apps. A quick Google search of “productivity apps” lands you 41,700,000 results in a mere 0.60 seconds. I’m stating the obvious here, but that’s a LOT of options. So where do you start? How to you begin to narrow down your options and determine what is best for your organization’s specific needs? Start with these considerations:

1. Analyze your workflows.

Reflect on your current workflows and processes. Where are bottlenecks occurring? What issues have arisen? Don’t do this alone, talk to your team. Each of your team members has a different role than yours and, in turn, a different perspective.

2. Identify your needs.

Following your analysis create a list of your needs and prioritize them. Have your team do this too. An anonymous survey through a free site like Survey Monkey is a quick and effective way to capture honest feedback.

3. Research

With these prioritized needs front of mind – research! Do simple Google searches to identify apps. Read reviews – good and bad, from multiple sources. Research companies similar to yours and determine what apps (if any) they are using. Do primary research. Call people. Use the power of your network to get candid feedback – seek out differing opinions so that you end up with a well-rounded overview. This is particularly important for apps that you have short-listed.

4. Decide in haste repent at your leisure.

Just because a new app is trendy and “everyone” is using it doesn’t mean it’s right for your organization. Implementing new apps takes time and effort and it is much harder to get the support of your team to support a switch to a new app three months down the road when you realize your first choice wasn’t a good fit. 

5. Do NOT be cheap.

When used properly, many applications can have a significant impact on the productivity and culture of your company. While there are a number of free apps that can be incredibly effective, don’t automatically pass up options that have a price tag. If it is the right option you will make your money back in spades.

6. Ask for help.

You will quickly find that your network is happy to spread the word about their experience with apps they have tried – the good, the bad, the ugly. As well, don’t hesitate to reach out to the creators of the apps you are considering. They are often happy to provide insights including customization options – you don’t have to settle for the default settings!

Choosing what tools to work with on a daily basis is a process. Enjoy it. Work with your team, listen to their opinions – they are working at the front lines and can often identify needs and issues you hadn’t considered yet. While there is an upfront investment to get a new application up and running in your organization you will reap the benefits quickly.

Work smarter, not harder. 


Jessica Taylor
A/Regional Manager, Senior Analyst, Bioenterprise BC






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Navigating Canada’s Public Funding Landscape: Five Tips to Keep in Mind

Posted on May 25 2016 | Author: Jessica Taylor

Public funding is unchartered territory for many, especially entrepreneurs starting their first venture or entering a new market. Often times program guides are littered with unfamiliar vocabulary and requirements can be unclear and confusing. So where do you start? Whether your next steps are contingent on securing funding or you are looking to leverage a private investment, there are few things to keep in mind when navigating the public funding landscape. This blog aims to provide you with tips that will increase your likelihood of receiving public funding:

1. There are different types of public funding; understand what makes the most sense for your project.

Most public funding can be categorized as one of the following:

  • Grants, contributions and financial assistance
    • These programs run on a cost-share basis and require that you report the outcomes of the project; however, most do not require you repay the funding body.
  • Loans and cash advances
    • When dealing with loans and cash advances it is critical that you understand the terms of your specific agreement. Ask questions of the funding partner and seek out a mentor who can review the agreement.
  • Loan guarantees
    • A government guarantee can attract creditors, providing a sense of security in providing financing to an early stage company.
  • Tax refunds and credits
    • Certain activities, such as research and development, are eligible for tax credits and the government offers a number of tax incentives that can help reduce your overhead costs.
  • Wage subsidies
    • Hiring grants and wage subsidies are available for a variety of different roles. In particular, a number of programs focus on new graduate hiring incentives that can make onboarding a new employee or position more feasible.

Canada Business Network provides a great overview of the types of funding that are available in Canada.


2. Demonstrate the benefit beyond your organization.
It is important to show the funding organization that the project will benefit the rest of your industry through increased revenues, job creation or other economic means such as providing equipment or services to other ventures. This can be illustrated by providing letters of support from other organizations or collaborating with an industry partner or academic institution for a project that is mutually beneficial.


3. Know when to apply for government funding.
Timing is critical when applying for government funding. Public funding programs operate in one of two ways:

  • Continuous application intake:
    These programs receive, review and approve applications on an ongoing basis until the program is fully subscribed or the government’s commitment has ended/is completed. This has a “first come first serve” mentality and timing of your submission may be more crucial to success.
     
  • Application intake period:
    Other programs set a “call for proposals” or intake period, which is a specific period of time where applications will be accepted. Once the intake period ends, all of the applications are reviewed and funding decisions are made. If a company does not get their application in during this time, they must wait for the next intake period.


4. Different levels of public funding
In Canada, public funding is available at all levels of government including federal, provincial, territorial, regional and municipal. As a small business it’s a good practice to be aware of the various funding organizations and their programming. A few of the key funding organizations are identified below:
 

Federal
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)     
Agriculture Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)
Farm Credit Canada (FCC)
FedDev Ontario
Western Economic Diversification Canada
 

Provincial
Innovacorp
Innovation PEI
Investment Agricultural Fund  
Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE)      
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture,
Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)
Municipal
Regional Innovation Centres 




 

* Check your city’s economic development website for information about locally available funding. 

Caution: Stacking (using multiple sources of funding for one project or application) is possible, but there are a number of considerations and rules. It is recommended that entrepreneurs seek counsel from an organization or consultant that has experience in this space.


5. Collaborate.
Partnering with an industry member or academic group can make you eligible for new programs. As well, certain programs provide a higher cost-share for collaborative projects, some of which are only open to industry who have partnered with academia. For example, the Growing Forward 2 Program has a funding stream called Organizations and Collaborations run through the Agricultural Adaptation Council and NSERC runs various funding programs that businesses partnered with academics are eligible for.

Businesses of all stages can benefit immensely from the support of government funding. Keeping yourself informed about what is available and connecting with consultants and organizations that can assist with the application process will make accessing public funding a much easier process. When considering a new project or venture be sure to keep these tips in mind and reach out.

 

Jessica Taylor 
Senior Analyst, Food & Food Systems

 






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Are you making the most of your team?

Posted on October 14 2015 | Author: Jessica Taylor

You aren’t unleashing the full potential of your team until they are collaborating.  Collaboration isn’t just another 21st century buzzword; it is an integral part of all successful teams. Collaboration in the workplace allows for new, innovative, and creative solutions to problems.

But how is effective collaboration achieved? How do we avoid working in silos with individual roles and responsibilities?

It is important to recognize that forced collaboration can actually prove to be more detrimental than no collaboration at all. Collaboration should be built into your company culture and processes. Consider the following as you work on fostering collaboration in your organization:

Clear, Open Communication
Management teams must clearly communicate their company goals and mission. When employees understand the bigger picture goals and how they impact their individual role, they will naturally identify areas of collaboration with other team members. It is also important that lines of communication are open and welcoming to ensure all members of the team feel comfortable to interact.

Recognition of Individual and Team Success
Historically, workplace recognition involved promotions, salary increases and bonuses. While all of these incentives can motivate employees, it is equally important that effort is acknowledged in alternative and less formal ways.  These types of recognition create a sense of comfort and confidence within a role and encourage employees to share their ideas and questions with others.

For example, creating interdisciplinary task forces or teams to strategize and provide solutions to ongoing issues, implementing employees’ ideas or having them take the lead on a project, activity or meeting are all ways to empower your workforce.  Be sure to emphasize individual successes as well and promote the benefits and outcomes of working as a team. This will empower the team with the confidence to engage with both internal and external stakeholders

Cohesion & Understanding
Everybody thinks differently, works differently and approaches problems from a different angle. Getting to know how each of your team members prefers to work and communicate enables you to work together efficiently. 

Where possible, include as many team members as possible in ongoing conversations. Not only does this allow you to get multiple perspectives, but it also demonstrates your understanding of your colleagues’ strengths. Frequent conversations around workflow and goals, both team and individual, helps the group stay on task and avoids duplication of effort. Another way to build cohesion is making time to learn about your colleagues’ roles and projects. This helps to create a better understanding of your workforce and allows you to identify ways you can collaborate.

Atmosphere
Get together and talk. Hosting both formal and informal brainstorming sessions on a regular basis gets people thinking outside of the box and encourages creativity.  A sense of community and support goes a long way in encouraging people to work together.

Be open-minded. Don’t let your colleagues department, job title or educational background decide whether or not they should be involved in a conversation or project. Their ideas and experiences will provide valuable input.

Bridge Geographic Gaps
With employees situated in various locations locally or internationally, companies need to be flexible and creative in collaborative efforts. Making use of technologies such as online project management tools, document sharing, and instant messaging platforms allows even the most geographically dispersed teams to work together effectively. It is also important to include human interaction via videoconferences, phone calls and face-to-face interactions as often as possible. Water cooler conversations are few and far between with groups outside your office so you need to ensure that there are other open and active lines of communication.

These considerations aren’t just for the CEO or managers. As an employee, you are a member of a team. Empowering your colleagues to work together is important for the success of the company and your own professional goals. Not only will you reap the benefits of collaboration as you find unique, effective solutions for your own projects, you will also be participating in a dynamic process, a process that will increase company productivity and success.

Jessica Taylor
Senior Analyst, Food and Food Systems

Photo Credits: Flickr, Flickr






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The Evolving Food Landscape

Posted on February 11 2015 | Author: Jessica Taylor

When reflecting on 2014’s major trends such as the local food movement, transparency and the clean label, it is undeniable that consumer demand is driving innovation and change in the food sector. The Information Age has created a generation of consumers who are used to having answers at their fingertips and they expect the same from the food they are buying. Today’s consumer wants to know what they are eating, where it’s from and how it travelled through the supply chain.

So what should you keep your eyes open for this year? According to Innova Database here are a few of the trends we can expect in 2015:

Protein: Old Trend, New Sources
Consumers are still looking to increase their protein intake and we will continue to see more high-protein products enter the market but the difference this year will be the source. New sources of protein such as pea and milk will be introduced and novel sources like algae and insects will also hit the market. That’s right, last year’s “bug trend” is expected to continue! However, as we saw in 2014 insect-based products will be picked up quicker in Europe than here in North America. Keep your eyes open for products like Chirps, cricket chips, and Chocolate Chirp Cookies by Six Foods.

Gearing Up for a New Generation
Millennials, the biggest generation since the Baby Boomers, are now becoming the primary customers of food products. These individuals are 15 to 35 years old and are very different than any consumer the food industry has seen before. Unlike their parents, and generations before them, Millennials are very concerned about the story behind the products they are consuming; brand loyalty is a thing of the past. In 2015, we expect to see the food industry respond with marketing geared towards Millennials – more storytelling, more information.

From Clean to Clear: Changing Labels
With the consumer growing increasingly interested in their diet, food labels have evolved to provide appropriate information. In recent years food labels have become “clean” with statements such as: no additives; no preservatives; nutritious, wholesome ingredients; and claims about consumer health benefits. This year we will see another evolution of the food label, from clean to clear. The clear label will boost simple claims and hone in on the transparency trend providing consumers with a better idea of what they are eating.

Today’s consumer is all about the DIY. They want to Instagram a photo of their Tuscan Tortellini Vegetable Soup, Berry Green Smoothie and the incredible breakfast burrito they made this morning, but they want it to be as convenient as possible. These same Foodies who are looking to make gourmet meals at home are also in a rush and convenience is of utmost importance. We are a society that has come to expect instant gratification, even when it comes to food preparation. This year we should expect to see the food industry cater to this demand with pre-cut fruits and veggies and other products to speed up meal prep time.

The Rise of the Snack
Finally, more and more consumers are eating meals on their own and on-the-go. Many people have shied away from large family-style meals due to their increasingly busy lifestyles and the difficulty of finding a time where everyone can sit down. In 2015 the food industry should pick up on this trend and launch more “snack foods” to replace traditional meals. Breakfast is no stranger to this movement, but products this year will aim to replace lunch and dinner options with snacks as well!

Through a snap shot of the food industry we can see that many changes are on the horizon. As society evolves, so too must the food industry in order to meet the needs of the ever-changing consumer. It looks like innovation is the name of the 2015 food game – who is up to the challenge?

Jessica Taylor
Business Analyst, Food, Nutrition & Health

Resources:
PR News Wire
Food Navigator

Photo Credit: iStock






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The Changing Face of Canadian Food Labels

Posted on September 10 2014 | Author: Jessica Taylor

Today’s food labels provide a wealth of information from nutrient and caloric content to third-party certifications, from health claims to environmental impact. As with most food trends, food labels have evolved over time based on consumer demand. Canadian consumers are becoming more and more health conscious and demanding to know what is in their food, especially pre-packaged foods.

Many of us take for granted being able to flip over a box at the grocery to figure out how many calories are in our favourite snack food or how much sodium is in a can of chicken noodle soup, but mandatory nutrition labeling hasn’t been around for that long. Some of you may be surprised to learn that it wasn’t until January 1st of 2003 that ingredient lists and Nutrition Facts tables became mandatory on most foods - and it was as recent as December 12, 2007, that all pre-packaged foods required both to appear on their labels.

While they do provide a lot of helpful information, Canadian food labels can be misleading and difficult for parents and consumers of all ages to understand. In order to arm consumers with the information necessary to make healthier food choices, a consultation process involving a number of stakeholder groups across Canada has taken place and proposed changes have been developed based on this feedback. The proposed changes include:

  • Serving sizes will be changed to more accurately reflect the average consumer’s intake.
  • Nutrients that consumers should limit their intake of will be listed in the top portion of the table while those, which need to be consumed more frequently, will be in the bottom portion.
  • The caloric content will still be included at the top of the table, but in bolder, larger font.

A consultation on the proposed changes will come to a close on September 11th and be reviewed in the coming weeks. However, even after a decision is made it will take some time before the current labels are phased out.

 So next time your visit your local grocery store or grab a snack from the kitchen cupboard take note of what you see – there is a lot more to a food label than meets the eye.

Jessica Taylor
Business Analyst, Food, Nutrition & Health

References:
http://www.cpha.ca/en/programs/history/achievements/09-shf/labelling.aspx
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/label-etiquet/nutrition/index-eng.php






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Scaling-up a Food Processing Business – What do You Need to Consider?

Posted on March 12 2014 | Author: Jessica Taylor

Starting a new business can be a daunting, and difficult, process. Food processing companies in particular are faced with many regulatory requirements and potential barriers that must be considered in order to be successful – but what happens once your company becomes successful? How do you expand? How do you scale-up your production and sales? What is required to export your product to other areas of the world?

These are just a few of the many considerations that entrepreneurs need to keep in mind as their food processing business begins to grow. While many of the answers to these questions are dependent on the specific company and their product(s), there are some general guidelines that companies can follow as a starting point for successful expansion.

Getting Started

Funding is often a major obstacle for small companies looking to expand their business; however, there are a number of funding programs that exist to help companies in this position. There are a variety of funding programs available through both the federal and provincial governments to help these business grow and to improve the Canadian economy.

The Canadian government, in conjunction with the government of Ontario, offers guidance through a website called AGPAL that enables individuals and companies to find programs and services provided by both levels of government, specifically within the agriculture sector.  AGPAL is an online search portal where companies can enter their funding needs (i.e. “Business growth, planning & start-up”) and the sector their company falls under (i.e. “Agri-businesses or food processors”) to find a list of possible funding opportunities.

Additionally, Growing Forward 2 (GF2) was launched April 1, 2013 and is a three billion dollar investment into agricultural programs and services for the next five years, funded by federal, provincial and territorial governments. GF2 has both federal components offered through Agriculture Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and a host of programs through the provincial government.

Finally the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) website includes a list of funding sources that may be applicable to many food processors that can be found here.

Insurance
Obtaining insurance for a food processing business is very important. The Insurance Bureau of Canada provides helpful information regarding insurance for businesses of all sizes (http://www.ibc.ca/en/Business_Insurance/).

Manufacturing the Product

Facility Requirements
As your business begins to expand, the where and how the product is manufactured may also need to change. Food processing facilities must meet a variety of requirements; within Ontario these include Food Premises Regulation 562 and the Food and Drug Act if the goal is to sell the product nationally or internationally. These regulations must be met regardless of whether the company chooses to build a facility, lease a facility or employ a co-packer.

Food Safety and Quality Control
Food safety and quality control programs are usually put in place to meet market demand (i.e. many retailers won’t sell a product unless the company can guarantee a certain level of food safety). The levels of food safety are: (1) Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP); (2) Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points; (3) Traceability Plan; (4) Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).  Being aware of the requirements of your specific distributor and/or vendors is critical in the development of these plans.

Labelling Your Product

Health Claims
Health claims are an excellent marketing tool for your product regardless of what development stage the company is in; however, it is important to understand all of the regulatory considerations prior to using a claim.

The Food Directorate of Health Canada is responsible for creating standards, policies and regulations surrounding the use of health claims on foods. They also conduct both mandatory and voluntary pre-market approval of health claims to assess if these claims are both truthful and not misleading.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency provides an outline of the requirements for health claims on Canadian food products in the Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising, Chapter 8.

Certification
There are a number of different certifications that food processors can get for their product. A certification can give a food product a competitive edge by opening the product up to more markets and/or improving the consumer’s perception of the product. Gluten-free, halal, kosher, organic, vegan and vegetarian are just a few of many certifications that can be considered. Connecting with the appropriate certification body as early on in the product development stage as possible can make the certification process much easier.

Distributing Your Product

Once your product(s) is market-ready you must be able to distribute it to vendors and consumers. This can be achieved through use of a broker, distributor or wholesaler. Additionally, as your food processing company continues to grow you may consider exporting your product(s) to new markets. In order to do so your product(s) must meet requirements of the country to which it is being exported (i.e. if exporting to the US the product must follow all labelling regulations set out by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)). If you are interested in exporting your product(s) it is recommended that you connect with an importer or distributor in the country that you wish to export to. For assistance in connecting to an importer or distributor contact Ontario Food Export (a division of the Business Development branch of OMAF).  

Next steps…

Exploring these general guidelines is a great start on the road to growing your food processing company. From here, making connections to experts in each of these areas will help to guide your decisions from the very start, allowing the process to run more smoothly. Bioenterprise has created a document outlining these regulatory considerations in greater detail, along with providing additional contacts in this space. Should you wish to acquire a copy of these documents please do not hesitate to contact us.

Jessica Taylor
Junior Business Analyst, Food Nutrition & Health






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Less is More When it comes to Front-of-Pack (FoP) Nutrition Labelling

Posted on August 21 2013 | Author: Jessica Taylor

With an abundance of food products on the market, trying to select the healthiest options can be overwhelming even for the most health conscious of consumers. As the market becomes more saturated and the trend toward healthy eating continues, food manufacturers are feeling pressure to make their products stand out on the crowded supermarket shelves, but how is this accomplished? Front of Pack (FoP) nutrition labelling has been a hot topic recently as researchers, industry and policy makers alike look to determine the most appropriate and effective design of food labels.

FoP labelling was introduced in the late 1980, first with American Heart Association’s Heart Guide in 1987, followed by the Swedish National Food Administration’s Green Keyhole in 1989. Unlike back of pack labelling, FoP has remained voluntary; however, as industry organizations, retailers, government agencies and not-for-profits continually introduce new FoP symbols there has been a push for a standardized symbol both within in countries and internationally.

Currently each symbol is subject to its own criteria as defined by its creator. However, research has demonstrated that consumers wrongly assume consistency between labels and make inappropriate comparisons between products.

So is a standardized FoP the way to go? And, if so, what should this standardized label look like?

It has become evident that information clutter and density on a label may play a significant role in the information consumers are able to gather from a food label. A recent study examining the effects of information clutter on consumer attention to FoP nutrition labelling found that as the number of design elements increased attention to the label decreases.1 Similarly attention to the label also decreased when the FoP symbol was in an information dense area versus a non-dense area. Interestingly the study also found that clutter was detrimental in single symbol FoP labels but not those that were combined– for example, included both Guideline Daily Amounts and a health logo.  Although numerous studies have been conducted no single FoP has been consistently seen as the most effective. However, these results indicate that the fewer design elements on the label, the more nutrition information the consumer will gather.

Where do we go from here?

While these results are interesting, food processors and policy makers need to understand how to best apply this knowledge. From the prospective of food processors, for example, nutritional information may not be their main concern. They may want to also emphasize, or at least include, information about the taste, origin and/or convenience of their product. Policy makers, however, are primarily focused on improving the food choices of the consumer.

Earlier this summer the UK introduced a standardized FoP nutrition label, which is still voluntary, but now covers approximately 60% of products sold within these countries. The process by which this came into effect was lengthy as both industry leaders and government agencies had to agree upon the most appropriate and effective label. The final FoP nutrition label is a combination of colour-coding and nutritional information including fat, sugar, salt and number of calories.

The United States has also discussed a standardized system but there are currently no federal regulations in place. However, the FDA has reviewed a program, Facts Up Front, which many US food processors incorporated into their labels. As shown here it is very similar to the UK standardized label, but does include the colour-coding system.

Canada has yet to adopt a standardized symbol and the question remains - what should Canadian food processors do?

As with most labelling issues it is recommended that food processors contact a regulatory consultant prior to, and during the creation of, their label to ensure it is compliant and grabs the attention of the consumers. Health Canada also offers a voluntary pre-market label approval program allowing processors to confidently put their product to market. If a company is looking to export their product to the UK, the US or any other area of the world it would be important to consider the country’s stance on FoP. Creating an effective product label can be challenging so make sure to connect with a regulatory consultant or a business analyst here at Bioenterprise if you have any questions.  

Jessica Taylor
Junior Business Analyst, Food Nutrition & Health

Image Credits:

Department of Health – United Kingdom

Grocery Manufacturers Association – Facts Up Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labelling Initiative

World Health Organization. What is Front-of-Pack Workshop. May 11, 2013

Sources:

1 Bialkova, S., Klaus, G. G., van Trijp, H. (2013). Standing out in the crowd: The effect of information clutter on consumer attention for front-of-pack nutrition labels. Food Policy, 41: 65 - 74.

BBC. Food labelling: Consistent system to be rolled out. June 18, 2013

Food Navigator – Label clutter means consumers don’t pay attention to nutrition information say researchers

Grocery Manufacturers Association – Facts Up Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labelling Initiative

nufoods international – Front-of-Package Rating Systems – A Review

World Health Organization. What is Front-of-Pack Workshop. May 11, 2013






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The Kosher Trend: A Growing Segment of the Food Industry

Posted on July 10 2013 | Author: Jessica Taylor

Although the term kosher carries an inherent religious connotation, it has been estimated that Jewish consumers account for a mere 15% of kosher consumers in North America. There has been a steady increase in the number of non-Jewish, non-kosher individuals in North America who are gravitating towards kosher products. The evidence is clear as kosher product sales have increased by 15% per year and has become a $200 billion dollar industry.

With statistics like those kosher is definitely a market that we need to take a closer look at. Some of the questions I immediately asked were: who is buying these products, how does a product become kosher certified and what exactly is a kosher product?

First things first – who are these new kosher consumers?

As the general population becomes more health conscious they look for safer, cleaner foods and the kosher certified trademark seems to give consumers a feeling of comfort. Others are moving towards kosher products because of food allergies or dietary restrictions, both religious and otherwise. For example, kosher foods are shellfish free as per the Kashruth allowing consumers with this type of allergy to consume them without any fear of an allergic reaction. Additionally, these foods are safe to consume during Passover and contain no gluten or wheat, meaning gluten-free consumers can safely select these products as well.

And what exactly is a kosher product?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the governing body for food regulations within Canada, states the following in the Guide to Labeling and Advertising:

Kosher, which means “fit” or “proper”, describes foods and practices that are specifically permitted by Jewish dietary laws. Certification that a food is processed in accordance with the requirements of the Kashruth is made by a Rabbi or Rabbinical organization and identified by the appropriate Rabbi or Rabbinical organization symbol.

Finally, how does a product become kosher certified and who regulates this process?

The CFIA provides a list of statements and symbols that manufacturers must not include on their label if they do not have the proper certification; however, they do not govern the certification themselves. Instead, there are a variety of certification agencies around the world that are able to certify products, establishments and caterers as kosher. These agencies employ Rabbis and individuals who are highly trained in modern food processing technology as well as how to uphold the rules of the Kashruth.

To simplify, the kosher certification process includes the following five steps:

  1. Application – Companies fill out an online application form specific to their chosen agency detailing their product, ingredients and suppliers.
  2. Application Review – Experts within the agency review applications to ensure they meet all initial requirements.
  3. Rabbinic Inspection – The agency visits the site and inspects the product and production process.
  4. Contract – If the company meets all requirements a contract between the agency and the company will be signed allowing the company to use the kosher symbol of said agency. (If a company does not meet all the requirements initially but is able to fix any issues identified during the initial inspection they may still be considered for certification).
  5. Letter of Kosher Certification – The kosher certification agency will provide the company with a letter of kosher certification stating that they meet all requirements.

Ongoing inspections occur over time to ensure that the company continues to meet all standards and regulations necessary for a kosher certification.

The largest of all kosher certification agencies in Canada is the Kashruth Council of Canada which is represented by the COR trademark. Their trademark symbol (shown top, right) is widely recognized and trusted both nationally and internationally. Globally however, Orthodox Union is the world leader in kosher certification (trademark shown bottom, right).

As kosher certification demand continues to grow, these agencies are creating more efficient and effective electronic applications and databases for companies. Consumers are now able to visit any one of these sites and have access to a database of all products that are kosher certified – the Orthodox Union has even created a mobile App that consumers can use while on the go.

So should your company become kosher certified?

Phyllis Koegel, Marketing Director, Orthodox Union told attendees at her “Kosher 101” talk at SIAL in 2011 that “kosher certification can give a company a competitive edge in the marketplace” and “cost of kosher certification is minimal when compared to return on investment”. However, even with a growing market, food manufacturers both old and new should carefully consider the pros and cons of kosher certification as it pertains to their company. It’s definitely food for thought.

If you are a food company interested in learning more about kosher certification please contact COR – Kashruth Council of Canada at questions@cor.ca or feel free to give us here, at Bioenterprise anytime.

Jessica Taylor
Bioenterprise Intern
M.Sc. Candidate, University of Guelph






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