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Food Fax

Posted on April 01 2017 | Author: Admin

Read the lasted Food Fax newsletter from International Food Focus Ltd.’s President, Carol Culhane.  

 

©2016 International Food Focus Ltd., 211 Carlton Street, East Office, Toronto, ON M5A 2K9 E: focus@foodfocus.on.ca
Food Fax is archived at www.foodfocus.on.ca 






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Health Canada Proposes New Food Labelling and Marketing Regulations for Children

Posted on March 23 2017 | Author: Admin

Healthy eating can be challenging due to several factors, some beyond the control of the consumer. This is why the Government of Canada is taking actions to make the healthier choice the easier choice for all Canadians. Health Canada is currently overhauling Canada’s healthy eating guidelines with a comprehensive strategy that will include new rules for marketing and labelling certain foods aimed at children. Health Minister Jane Philpott said the “iconic” Canada Food Guide has not kept up with the country’s changing demographics and lifestyle.

The World Health Organization (WHO) released recommendations on the marketing of food and beverages to children in 2010. WHO called on governments worldwide to reduce the exposure of children to advertising and to reduce the use of powerful marketing techniques employed by the food manufacturers and beverages high in saturated fats, trans-fats, added sugars or sodium.

Health Canada's last food guide was criticized because it was based on much input from industry. Today, Canada is acting on those WHO recommendations, which already restricts marketing to children under the age of thirteen. It will take anywhere from five to ten years to implement these changes, after consultations with industry, stakeholders and the public. Although, this is an unprecedented amount of change that will require an unprecedented level of investment in an unprecedented time frame, this will change what's in our products, what's on our product packaging and how these products will be marketed. On the other hand, the food and beverage industries continues to face challenges with timely regulatory approvals and costs for reformulation and innovation.

The food industry in Canada is already taking steps to encourage Canadians to make more informed, healthy food choices, and said it is "keen" to ensure further steps are taken. Health Canada just completed the scientific review of the Canada Food Guide. It found that most of the science behind its recommendations was sound. However, the department found there were not enough distinctions between age groups, sex, activity levels, or height. Hopefully, this new guide remains the most requested document at Health Canada.

In summary, Health Canada will engage the public and stakeholders to seek feedback and input on a proposed front of package labelling approach aimed at helping Canadians make healthier and more informed choices, particularly on added sugars, sodium and trans-fats.

dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand.

 

Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

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The Healthy Eating Strategy: Health Canada Issues Changes to Food Label Regulations

Posted on March 09 2017 | Author: Admin

On December 14, 2016 Health Canada announced amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations in reference to the labelling provisions for packaged foods. These changes stem from Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy, an effort to empower consumers to make healthier food choices by making food labels easier to read and understand. The final objective being the elimination of industrially produced trans-fat, reduction of sodium and additional information pertaining to sugars and food colours.

As a result of these amendments, Health Canada has updated food labelling as it concerns the Nutrition Facts table and list of ingredients.

Nutrition Facts Table

Increasing the font size of the Calories and Serving Size

Adding a bold line under Calories

Adding the footnotes “5% or less is a little” and “15% or more is a lot”

Assigning new % daily values based on modern nutrition science

Adding a new % daily value for total sugars

Adding potassium

Removing Vitamin A and Vitamin C

Adding the milligram amounts for potassium, calcium and iron

Creation of a regulated reference Serving Size, based on single serve versus multi-serving packages

List of Ingredients

Following ‘sugar’ group sugars-based ingredients in brackets

Listing food colours by their individual common names

Using black font on a white or neutral background

Separating ingredients using bullets or commas

Listing ingredients using both upper and lower case letters

Using Minimum type height requirements for ingredients

Following the same formatting requirements for the ‘Contains’ statement (indicating the presence/potential presence of priority food allergens, gluten sources and/or added sulphites)

The food industry has been given a five year transition period, as of December 14, 2016 to implement the new food label requirements under these revised regulations. During this interim period, companies may choose to label food products under the former regulations or the new regulations. Over this period, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will maintain its current guidance and tools while simultaneously updating them to reflect these new requirements. Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have prepared a guide to develop accurate nutrient values, as well as a number of laboratory methods for nutrient content analysis. Health Canada will respond to questions related to the new requirements and their intent, whereas inquiries dealing with compliance and enforcement will be handled by local Canadian Food Inspection Agency offices.

dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand.

 

 

Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article






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#BCTECH Summit – Counting down the weeks!

Posted on February 27 2017 | Author: Sophie Wotten

The #BCTECH Summit is only weeks away and Bioenterprise is excited to be part of BC’s largest tech conference. On March 14th and 15th, the #BCTECH Summit will take over the Vancouver Convention Centre! There are over 200 speakers anticipated at this year’s Summit covering a cross-sector of industries including ag-tech, health,-tech, clean-tech, digital media and more, to discuss important topics impacting business technology decisions today.

The #BCTECH Summit is an opportunity not only to bring together BC’s vibrant and innovative tech community but also the convergence of traditional industries, business leaders, government and academia that are now adopting tech in all facets of their businesses and programs.

Bioenterprise’s President and CEO, Dave Smardon will provide an informative talk about bringing ag-tech innovation to market. Smardon’s presentation, “Why Ag-Tech” will focus on the importance of agri-technologies, as well as, how agriculture must adapt and diversify in order to meet the needs of to the growing population and strains on our natural resources.

Food is at the core of our social fabric, requiring our food systems to be efficient, productive, sustainable and safe from seed to market.  BC’s agri-food sector is one of the most diverse in North America with more than 20,000 farms and 1,800 food processing firms in the province. Our innovative technology sector is developing new methods to increase diversity, sustainability, productivity and market growth in the face of climate change and population growth.

The session, “Technology and the Social Fabric of our Food Systems: Transforming and Diversifying Agricultural Models” will dive deep into the innovation, the challenges and the opportunities in agriculture. Bioenterprise is excited to be a part of this jam-packed session that will bring together leaders in the industry with representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Terramera and Defyrus Inc. A sample of the insightful and thought-provoking discussions will include trends and demands driving agri-technology innovation, the expectations of today’s consumer on sustainable agriculture, and the role of genomics in the industry.  

Don’t forget to say hi to some of our Bioenterprise team at our exhibit booth, #205, where you will also meet some of the innovative companies we are working with!!  Delegates interested in this stream should also check out the Biosphere and Greenhouse featuring #BCTECH in action.

Learn more about the #BCTECH Summit at www.bctechsummit.ca.  With your special promo code, join Bioenterprise at the #BCTECH Summit! Use Speaker599 to purchase your tickets for the two-day conference for just $599!  






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Front-of-Package Requirements for Food Labels in Canada: Simplifying or Confusing Consumers?

Posted on February 23 2017 | Author: Admin

On November 14, 2016, Health Canada released the consultation document “Toward Front-of-Package Nutrition Labels for Canadians” outlining their proposal to introduce mandatory requirements for labels that appear on “Front of Package” foods (FOP) that are high in nutrients of public health concern. These nutrients of public health concerns when at high levels are sodium (associated with hypertension), sugar (associated with diabetes) and saturated fatty acids (associated with obesity). Health Canada has requested input from consumers, stakeholders, industry members, researchers in academia and health professionals on the proposed FOP requirements.

Health Canada proposes applying FOP labelling through the use of a symbol (currently being determined by Health Canada with properties of being simple and intuitive) that is mandatory on the principal display panel when the prepackaged food exceeds the predetermined “high-in” threshold value for sodium, sugars, or saturated fats. Through this mandatory and simple approach, Health Canada feels that consumers can rely on quick information on key nutrients of concern that would allow them to easily compare products and help make healthier choices easier. Health Canada feels that consumers can be limited by time, motivation and other factors, so FOP symbols grants them an additional tool to help them with informed choices; being a simple visual cue. Health Canada also states that FOP labelling is transparent as consumers can verify which nutrient is being flagged in the FOP symbol and can verify its actual quantity on the Nutrition Fact Table on another panel.

The proposed threshold value for when a “high-in” FOP symbol would be required for sodium, sugar and saturated fats is suggested to be 15% of the dietary value for prepackaged food and 30% of the dietary values for prepackaged meals and combination dishes – though different threshold values are being proposed for foods with small reference amounts (condiments, butter, margarine, cookies etc.).

Health Canada is also permitting or considering permitting exemptions to FOP labelling for products with very small packages, small individual packages served in restaurants, food produced and prepackaged by retailers, alcoholic packages and packages of sugar and salt.

There has already been feedback from the industry that FOP labeling may actually increase, rather than decrease consumer confusion as intended as the consultation documents outlines many exemptions which could confuse consumers when encountering an exempted food versus a healthier food alternative that carries FOP labelling. Industry also has concerns that FOP labelling on the three nutrients of public health concern will cause consumers to focus on these three nutrients and not the other beneficial nutrients in the food (running contrary to a promotion of a balanced diet) and be frightened away from these products despite their other nutritional benefits. Some of the proposed FOP symbols are reminiscent of street signs (stop & yield) which may confuse consumers to be a “not-consume” warning rather than an indicator of a higher value of a certain nutrient that it actually is.

In addition to FOP labelling, the consultation documents also discusses update to nutrient content claims to make them consistent to the proposed FOP labelling and revising the current high-intensity sweetener regulations to align with those seen in international regulatory agencies around the world.

The current consultation has just recently closed on January 13th, 2017, though further consultations are planned again in June 2017.

dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand.

 

Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

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Census of Agriculture – What will the data tell us?

Posted on February 08 2017 | Author: Emily Hartwig

In order to develop effective and successful polices, regulators require extensive and highly detailed data. In the case of the Canadian agricultural policy, federal and provincial regulators rely on the statistical portrait created by the Census of Agriculture every 5 years. The goal of the census is to collect a comprehensive data set of Canadian farms and agricultural operators, including information covering major commodities, livestock, finances and new technologies.

Why the Census?

The Census of Agriculture data is collected on an individual basis and allows for a comprehensive view into the attributes and nuances that are unique to each farm community across Canada. The importance of the census cannot be overstated. The data is collected directly from those who will be most impacted by any resulting regulatory changes and thus enables industry to influence change and help shape the future of Canadian agriculture. As a result, all members of the agriculture community have the potential to benefit: farm operators will be able to formulate production, marketing and investment decisions; producer groups will be made aware of new industry trends and developments, and governments will be able to develop efficient and effective policies concerning agriculture.  

                             

 

New industries, new questions.

While every census includes certain basic questions, the most recent Census of Agriculture included questions pertaining to several new interest areas: the adoption of technology, direct marketing, on-farm practices and land features, land inputs, and renewable energy systems. These new sections of the census were added to reflect the ever-evolving nature of the agricultural industry as well as how farmers and agricultural operators are adapting. One can safely assume that any new policy introduced as a result of the census may include information pertaining to these new interest areas in Canadian agriculture.

With the rise of agri-technology, such as drones and precision agriculture, those affiliated with the agriculture industry will have a better insight into the long awaited structured and well-defined regulations.

The areas of conservation and sustainability efforts will likely begin to see these practices incorporated into regulation. Sustainable practices are not novel across the Canadian agricultural landscape but have become a hot topic as of late, and with its inclusion in the census, federal and provincial governments are starting to take note.

Questions regarding renewable energy systems also appeared in the census, and industry players may benefit from the data, encouraging the growth of sustainable business models and development of efficient market strategies.

The 2016 Census of Agriculture will begin to be released to the public May 10, 2017. 

 

Emily Hartwig
Analyst

Source: Statistics Canada – Census of Agriculture

Photo Credit: Static Pexels






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New proposed Canadian food safety regulations open for comments

Posted on January 31 2017 | Author: Admin

They’re finally here! The long-awaited Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (Regulations) have been pre-published in the Canada Gazette I for comment, and the CFIA has officially kicked off consultation on the proposed regulations.

The proposed Regulations are made under the Safe Food for Canadians Act (the Act), which was adopted back in 2012 with a view to improving the safety of the Canadian food supply through establishing consistent, prevention-focused requirements for food that is imported or prepared for export or interprovincial trade. The Act consolidates the authorities of the Fish Inspection Act, the Canada Agricultural Products Act, the Meat Inspection Act, and the food provisions of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act.

The highly anticipated Regulations, which put the meat on the bones of the Act, result from significant consultation with stakeholders that began in 2013. Key objectives of the Regulations include prevention, enhanced market access for Canadian exporters and consolidation of 14 different, overlapping and at times inconsistent, food-based regulations to a single set of outcome-based requirements to improve consistency, enable innovation and flexibility and level the playing field across foods and between importers and Canadian producers.

The proposed Regulations include a number of new, and some not-so-new requirements around licencing, preventive controls, traceability, ministerial exemptions, packaging, labelling, recognition of foreign systems, inspection legends, seizure and detention, organic products and some commodity-specific requirements. Below we provide a brief overview of three key food safety elements: licences, traceability requirements and preventive controls. The full text of the Regulations can be found here.

Licences

The Regulations would replace the current commodity-based licence regime by requiring licences based on activity, rather than commodity. Under the proposed Regulations, licences will be required for food importers, companies preparing food for export or for interprovincial trade, and for companies slaughtering food animals from which meat products for export or interprovincial trade may be derived. The Regulations provide for some exemptions, and the CFIA has provided this interactive tool to help industry determine whether it will require a licence.

The intent of the licensing regime is to provide enhanced oversight of the entirety of industry, resulting in the better identification of food safety risks, communication of food safety information and more efficient CFIA inspections and enforcement actions. Licences are proposed to be valid for two years, for a fee of approximately $250 and will be subject to suspension in the event of non-compliance.

Traceability requirements

Traceability requires a company to be able to track the movement of food one step back (to the person who provided it) and one step forward (to the person to whom it is provided) – one step forwards and one step backwards throughout the entire supply chain, up to the point of retail sale. The Regulations apply the international standard for traceability established by Codex to anyone importing, exporting and interprovincially trading food, as well as to other persons holding a licence issued under the Act, and to growers and harvesters of fresh fruits or vegetables that are to be exported or traded interprovincially

Industry will be permitted to keep either electronic or paper records, as long as they can be accessed and provided to Health Canada within 24 hours (or possibly less in the case of an imminent risk to human health). Records will have to be maintained for a minimum two years. The CFIA has provided additional information on traceability requirements and record-keeping here.

Preventive controls

The Regulations propose that food subject to the Regulations and all regulated activities be conducted in a manner consistent with internationally recognized good agricultural and manufacturing practices, i.e., GAPs, GMPs and HACCP. The proposed Regulations address certain key preventive control elements, including sanitation and pest control, transportation and equipment, storage, hygiene and complaints and recall.

Most regulated parties will be required to develop and maintain a written preventive control plan (PCP) that demonstrates how to identify and eliminate (or reduce) hazards and risks related to food products. The PCP should be developed based on HACCP principles and should address the seven key elements of an HACCP plan.

The CFIA has provided this interactive tool to help industry determine whether it will require a PCP. Additionally, draft PCP templates for Canadian food businesses and exporters can be found here and a draft step-by-step guide for preparing a PCP can be found here (Canadian business and exporters) and here (importers).

Next steps

The CFIA is proposing a phased approach for the coming into force of the proposed Regulations to account for different levels of industry-readiness and the concerns of small businesses. Additionally, it has promised support for industry in the form of guidance documents, continued communication and new compliance tools. The CFIA’swebsite on the Safe Food for Canadians Act provides additional information on the Act and proposed Regulations.

Consultation on the proposed Regulations closes on April 21, 2017. The CFIA is offering a number of in-person and web-based information sessions across the country through February and March – additional information about these sessions is available here. In the meantime, the CFIA has prepared this Handbook entitled “Understanding the Proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: A Handbook for Food Businesses”.  

 

Érika Bergeron-Drolet
Associate, Norton Rose Fullbright

Sara Zborovski
Partner, Norton Rose Fullbright

 

Article provided by Norton Rose Fulbright

 

About Norton Rose Fulbright
Norton Rose Fulbright is a global legal practice that provides the world's pre-eminent corporations and financial institutions with a full business law service. Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers share food and agribusiness sector knowledge and experience across provincial and national borders, enabling them to support their clients anywhere in the world. To learn more about Norton Rose Fulbright, please visit www.nortonrosefulbright.com

 

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Food Fax

Posted on January 06 2017 | Author: Admin

Read the lasted Food Fax newsletter from International Food Focus Ltd.’s President, Carol Culhane.  

 

©2016 International Food Focus Ltd., 211 Carlton Street, East Office, Toronto, ON M5A 2K9 E: focus@foodfocus.on.ca
Food Fax is archived at www.foodfocus.on.ca 






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Key Changes to the Finalized New Nutritional Facts Panel

Posted on December 20 2016 | Author: Admin

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally formalized the new Nutritional Facts panel for packaged foods. There are six critical changes that the FDA has implemented to help consumers to make more informed choices about the food they consume. The changes are outlined below:

Serving Size

  • The quantity of the serving size has been increased to accurately reflect what people typically now consume on a daily basis.
  • The text size for “serving size” has increased to highlight this information to consumers.
  • There are new requirements for certain size packages that may be larger than one serving size, but could be consumed in one setting.

Calories

  • The text size for calories is now larger and bolder to help emphasize this information.
  • Fats
  • While “total fats”, “saturated fat”, and “trans fat” are still required on the panel, the declaration of “calories from fat” has been removed since emerging research has shown the type of fat a person consumes is more important than the amount.

Added Sugars

  • The quantity of “added sugars” in both grams and as a percentage of daily value (% DV) is now required.

Nutrients

  • Together with Calcium and Iron, Vitamin D and Potassium declaration is now required since Americans are not getting the recommended daily amounts of these two nutrients. However, Vitamin A and Vitamin C declaration are no longer required.
  • The daily values for a large number of the vitamins and minerals have been updated.

Footnote

  • The footnote at the bottom of the panel has been updated to better inform the consumer the exact meaning of the percentage daily values.

Food manufactures in the United States have until July 26, 2018 to update their label with these new requirements. Though, businesses with less than 10 million dollars in revenue have an additional year to comply, making their effective date July 26, 2019.

 

Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article. 






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The Dangers of Executive Magical Thinking

Posted on December 16 2016 | Author: Admin

Today’s new executive standard calls for leaders with the ability to embrace the grey and drive to black and white. Yet when we peer into the toolbox that leaders use in the effort, we sometimes find excessive use of a very dangerous tool: magical thinking.

What is magical thinking?
Executive magical thinking can be broadly defined as relying on something other than leadership, judgment, and hard work to build success. Examples include:

  • Magical Direction
  • Magical Hiring
  • Magical Systems
  • Magical Marketing

Magical Direction
We know of a CEO who is a devoted reader of the latest books by business leaders. Whenever his leadership team sees a new book on his desk, they brace themselves because they know a change in management style is coming. That CEO believes that if only he follows the thinking of whomever he is reading, he can magically transform his own organization.

On the other hand, consider the case of the executive who asked his lieutenant for two good options to address a pressing issue. After the lieutenant presented both options – with their pros and cons – the boss simply said, “You pick.” When the early career lieutenant pressed her boss for his preference, he replied, “These are both viable. Just decide and go implement and make your decision good.”

So who is the better leader? The one who makes a good decision, or the one who makes his or her decision good? Up to that point, the lieutenant had believed the boss would make the decision, so she felt both relieved and somewhat distanced from responsibility for the outcome. But once the lieutenant was empowered to make her own choices, she was more than ready to pick one and make it a success.

Magical Hiring
Magical thinking can show up in the hiring process, too — most often in an over-reliance on psychometric tests to choose employees. These tests are fine as one minor component of the hiring process that also includes the hard work of interviewing, thorough vetting, and then careful thinking through whom should ultimately be hired for a position. Tests can confirm what a behavior-based interview assessment has concluded, or they can highlight inconsistencies – even point out something that was missed. But tests become magical thinking when a manager uses a score alone to make a hiring decision, or as a pre-screening pass/fail and thus relieve him or her from the responsibility of a careful, holistic hiring process.

Magical Systems
“Our sales will really take off once we invest in a full-function Customer Relationship Management system.” The idea that employees who were not terribly proactive or productive to begin with will suddenly become so because of a new system is simply magical thinking. Training and equipping a sales force is hard work. Systems can help management, but they are not a substitute for the daily discipline and accountability of business development.

Another example of Magical Systems is an investment firm that relies solely on spreadsheets or formulas to pick winners and then waits to see what happens. They fail to realize the difference between passive reliance on numbers and analytics versus nurturing of a culture that not only picks potential winners, but then works hard to maximize the return on each one over the long haul.

Magical Marketing
We also see firms searching for that magical marketing “silver bullet.” They believe, “If we can just get our people more engaged in social media, then they will become more engaged with our clients.” Never mind that they are not picking up the phone or getting on a plane to see prospects now. What they are really saying is that they want to avoid personal contact.

Similarly, the company may think the answer is a new website, the right catch-phrase, or a stellar commercial. Any or all of these may be smart, but they are magical thinking if they lack an intellectually honest assessment of whether or not the product is right – and fail to make sure that those who field the incoming leads are fully equipped to take advantage of the fruit of the marketing effort.

Final Thoughts
Looking for magical solutions doesn’t work because … there are no magical solutions. Deflecting results onto a “thing” is avoiding the reality that people are the ultimate determinant of success. Effective leaders don’t build castles in the air. They chart a course, hire the best talent they can, and then free their team to pursue the chosen course. They make decisions, take action, and then make their decisions good.

 

Greg Duerksen
President, Kincannon & Reed

 

Article provided by Kincannon & Reed

 

About Kincannon & Reed
Kincannon & Reed recruits leaders for organizations that feed the world and keep it healthy. Their focus is on the interrelated realms of food, agribusiness, and life science. Their clients range from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, as well as investment funds, financial institutions, industry associations, universities, and non-profit and development organizations. This sector knowledge streamlines the search process and enables them to better asses a candidates organizational fit and more compellingly present to them a client’s opportunity. In addition, the principals at Kincannon & Reed are former senior executives from the sectors they serve. This distinctive difference allows them to understand at a personal level, not just at an intellectual level, the environment in which you operate. The result is a quality conversation around your needs and a smoother recruitment process. To learn more about Kincannon & Reed, visit: www.KRsearch.com



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How Aspiring Entrepreneurs Can Benefit From Proper Business Communication

Posted on December 14 2016 | Author: Admin

For an entrepreneur there are many aspects to running a successful, well-rounded business. One significant factor to success is proper communication among employees and management, as well as B2B and B2C interactions. Without successful business communication, a business could suffer massive losses, injuries and even fatal mistakes can occur. An entrepreneur needs to be able to understand common challenges of business communication, characteristics of communication effectiveness as well as the importance of being able to adapt with technological change and its relation to communication.

Problems Surrounding Business Communication
Problems in business communication can come in numerous forms, and can have very different, problematic effects. For an entrepreneur to succeed they need to be aware of potential barriers within the communication process and how to avoid them. A few specific examples of barriers in business communication are:

Filtering – A barrier created by a speaker manipulating information they communicated to highlight positive aspects within a conversation and filter out the negative topics so that the audience does not know about problems and the severity they may possess.

Selective perception – This is a barrier put up by the receiver to select which information they want to see and hear based on their own specific needs.

Nonverbal communication – This is one of the most common barriers in communication. Many individuals may take nonverbal queues the wrong way, distorting the message that is being communicated.

Regardless of how the information is communicated; it needs to be conveyed in the clearest form possible. The communication process diagram demonstrates the varying areas in which barriers from employees, clients, partners, or other indirect consumers can easily arise and distort the message being communicated. An entrepreneur needs to be able to identify where the problem is originating and how to handle it as fast as possible.

Communication Process Diagram:


 

How to use Business Communication Effectively
Effective business communication has three specific characteristics that entrepreneurs need to follow for business success.

 1. Strategy in business communication comes from an individual’s ability to pre-plan a message. This planning phase involves developing the message, determining a target audience and the most appropriate medium for delivery. With strategy comes plenty of research – and in most instances, an entrepreneur should know the age, race, and gender of the audience to ensure their message will be communicated effectively and avoid misunderstanding.

 2. Being professional while communicating is such an important characteristic for entrepreneurs to follow – it could ultimately be the deciding factor of making a deal or losing one. Professional communication whether in person, via email, over the phone, etc., will foster a positive business reputation.

 3.  Adaptability in business communication trends is a very important aspect of corporate success. Entrepreneurs need to be able to adjust the way they communicate depending on the situation at hand. The situational context of an entrepreneur’s communication can affect how an entrepreneur approaches others and how the recipient deciphers the messages.

Business Communication and Technological Change
Being able to adapt to new communication technology will greatly benefit a new business’ progress by adding efficiency and ease to the workday. Entrepreneurs need to be familiar with technological software like email, video chat applications and online meeting websites.

 Communicating with consumers has greatly changed since the invention of the television and radio. Through technological change, social media has been introduced and developed as a top B2C tool. With over a billion active users on Facebook alone, it is no surprise that entrepreneurs thrive when social media is used effectively as a marketing tool. An entrepreneur must use their social media page correctly by following the three business communication strategies as mentioned above to ensure their messages are communicated properly to their audience.

 

Andrew Forgeron
Corporate Program Assistant 

 

Sources
Barriers to Effective Communication
Business To Business - B To B
Business To Consumer - B To C
How to Adapt the Way You Communicate to Different Situations
Three Steps to Effective Communication
What is Strategic Communications?

 






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Health Canada Approves Use of Stevia as a Sweetener in Nutritional Supplement Bars

Posted on December 08 2016 | Author: Admin

On August 24, Health Canada’s Food Directorate issued a Notice of Modification to Enable the Use of Steviol Glycosides (the active ingredient in stevia leaf extract) as a Sweetener in Nutritional Supplement Bars.

This is great news for the industry, as approval for stevia in various food products has lagged behind the US market for some time, with many customers wondering why low-calorie nutritional bars do not have stevia as an ingredient.

This also led to an unfair playing field in the industry, as Canadian manufacturers were limited in their choice of sweeteners to add to low-calorie Nutritional Supplement bars.

This Notice of Modification adds to expand the list of foods in Canada that can include steviol glycosides (stevia leaf extract) as a sweetener.

While the term is not in common use, Nutritional Supplements are a specific category of food within the Canadian Food and Drugs Regulations (FDR). They are located in FDR Division 24, Foods for Special Dietary Use, specifically in Section B.24.200.

While most consumers will not be familiar with this category as a distinct type of food, most people are aware of the concept of Meal Replacements. Meal Replacements are also found in Division 24 of the FDR. Up until now, Meal Replacements were allowed to use stevia, but Nutritional Supplements were not.

The two categories are quite similar in terms of compositional requirements of the products. The biggest differences are that Nutritional Supplements are permitted to have a lower total calorie count than Meal Replacements, and in addition they cannot be advertised as a replacement for a meal.  The easiest way for the general public to think of Nutritional Supplements is that they are a Low-Cal version of Meal Replacements.

 

Article provided by dicentra


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dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

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A User’s Guide to Social Media Strategies

Posted on November 30 2016 | Author: Admin

In the past, it took 60 years for television to reach 1 billion households. In this generation, it only took 5 years for cellphones to reach the same amount of people. In today’s generation, the increase in cellphone users goes hand in hand with the use of social media platforms due to the growing amount of people who use their phone for the internet and social networking apps. Technology is growing rapidly, requiring consumers, and more importantly businesses, to grow with it. With 70% of the global population expected to have smartphones by 2020, it is imperative businesses are active on social media.

Social media can be a great tool for organizations to reach a large segment of their consumers, help them interact with users and uncover consumer needs. Two of the most popular social media platforms used by businesses are Twitter and Facebook. Each of these platforms has unique strategies and goals associated with it.

Twitter
Twitter focuses on 4 key pillars: public, conversational, real time and distributed information. Since each post is limited to 140 characters, Twitter is not about creating long, in-depth messages– it is about grabbing the users attention, being seen and engaging with the public multiple times a day.

Did you know that 80% of customer service requests come from Twitter?

It is important for businesses to interact with customers to identify needs, areas of improvement and to keep the “conversation going”. It is not often that people take their complaints into a store anymore; businesses should prioritize activity on the platforms that consumers favour and use to express their opinions.  This can assist with fostering customer satisfaction and even staying ahead of the competition.

Twitter is also a great place to keep up with current news and trends. If there is a specific issue that everyone is tweeting about – businesses should consider becoming a part of the conversation! Organizations can increase engagement when they express an opinion, encouraging their consumers to share their views as well. It also indicates to consumers that your organization is keeping up with current trends, news and is active on the platform.

Facebook
Facebook has changed significantly since its launch in 2004. It has grown from a standard image-sharing network to a marketing hub. Today, Facebook is populated with multiple advertisements, promotions, pages, interests and “likes” posted to your profile. This gives companies access to information that they have never been able to see before!

Consumers are able to “like” different company pages, share articles, videos and photos they enjoy as well as comment on all content circulating the platform. This has allowed users to become very interactive online and has created a space to share thoughts and opinions on practically anything. Since consumers can share information online so easily, Facebook is a great way for companies to utilize social marketing. By promoting your organization on Facebook, you allow people to easily share your content with their networks, who can then share with their networks and so on. With features that allow you to “like” and comment, it is easy for consumers to receive feedback and identify what pages their friends are “liking”, and thus, possibly influencing brand behaviour. 

A recent study found that trusted social media users play a larger role in purchase decisions than product manufactures/retailers – these users are often referred to as “influencers”. Consumers value other consumers’ opinions, which means that “influencers” can play a huge part in the marketing of a brand – especially on social media where more than half of the population is active!

By promoting your product on Facebook, it gives people the opportunity to share their interest in your product with their network and potentially promote it with the click of a button. “Likes” and positive comments can help enhance a brand’s reputation and help you promote your product or business.

Growing With Technology
The way consumers use technology has changed, making it extremely important for businesses to adapt and understand how consumers are engaging with it.  Since the invention of smartphones, consumers are using various social media apps to converse and share opinions online. This is the new way of communicating in today’s generation, making it essential for businesses to be part of social media and its communication platform.

Hopefully this post has provided you with more information on using social media across different platforms.

 

Rachael Piccoli Kuschke
Marketing & Events Assistant 

 

Sources
5 Social Media Metrics that Your Business Should be Tracking
70 Percent of Population Will Have Smartphones by 2020
Hootsuite Conference 2016
Impact of Social Influence in E-Commerce Decision Making

 

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Pixabay
 






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Are You Meeting FSMA Produce Safety Rule?

Posted on November 24 2016 | Author: Admin

The Produce Safety Rule (PSR) requires growers to initially establish a Microbial Water Quality Profile (MWQP) for each untreated surface agricultural water source used during growing activities of covered produce (other than sprouts).

The Produce Safety Rules (PSR) must be applied for each water source using a direct water application method and annual surveys must be conducted for that water source in subsequent years.

The water quality profile is based on the levels of generic E. coli in your agricultural water using 100mL sample sizes. The method of testing for generic E. coli must be conducted following U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Method 1603. Methods other than 1603 may be used but they must be scientifically valid and shown to be at least equivalent to EPA Method 1603 in accuracy, precision, and sensitivity.

Some experts have stated that testing water samples with 100mL sample size is not sufficient and may not detect pathogens if they are at very low levels.

Research led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is examining a new irrigation water sample collection and testing methods that are expected to enable better detection of pathogens and fecal organisms other than E.coli for irrigation water. Ultra filtration water sampling techniques seem to be offering better options for risk assessment. The technique involves robust filters with minute pours that can trap bacteria, parasites and viruses. A battery powered portable pump is used to filter water from rivers, lakes or ponds at rates of 2 to 4 liters per minute.

Agricultural water is defined in part “as water that is intended to, or likely to, contact the harvestable portion of covered produce or food-contact surfaces.”

Geometric Mean (GM): GM is essentially the average amount of generic E. coli in your water source. FSMA Produce Safety Rule criteria requires a GM at or below 126 E. coli CFU/100mL.

Statistical Threshold Value (STV): STV is a measure of variability of generic E. coli levels in your water source. In simple terms, it is the level where 90 percent of the samples (log values) are below the value. Produce Safety Rule requires an STV at or below 410 E. coli CFU/100mL.

CFU (colony forming units) is the estimate of bacterial concentration in your water per 100mL.

 

Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

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The Growing Agri-Technology Industry

Posted on November 16 2016 | Author: Dave Smardon

Fourteen years have gone by since Bioenterprise first opened its doors. Back then, we were a very modest, three person operation, focusing on what little agricultural innovation that could be found; innovation that had gone beyond the applied research phase. Agriculture was a commodity-minded industry – much more so than today. There was no such thing as “agri-technology” or “agri-tech” back then and the movement towards agri-investment was still years away.  Governments were still completely focused on supporting research and the very idea of agricultural or food targeted accelerators, incubators, and clusters, was somewhere off in the future.

I am struck by the incredible difference we see today, from such a short time ago. I joined Bioenterprise in the summer of 2005 and all of the above was still very much true. A decade later and agriculture has been brought out of the shadows and into the mainstream. The First and foremost factor supporting this shift is the exponential growth in start-ups. Bioenterprise tracks start-up activity in our Innovation Portfolio and in our global database of companies. We list nearly 2,000 companies in thirty countries and this number is growing more rapidly than ever.

Not surprising, the leaders in agricultural innovation are countries that had the vision to support agriculture and food innovation a decade ago. The Netherlands, France, Brazil and the United States have become hotbeds for entrepreneurial activity. Of course, Israel always punches well above its weight and their output of start-up companies in agriculture is truly amazing. Countries like France and Brazil have invested $400 million in support of agricultural innovation and commercialization – and did so seven years ago. Today, they are reaping the benefits of their investments. Countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland can certainly hold their own but one must recognize that they represent a second tier. This is to be expected because they have invested less and for a much shorter period of time. But governments do get it now! They have tasted the kool-aid and are rapidly making investments in commercialization programs.

In just the past five years in the United States, we have seen the creation of Yield Lab, Agri-Tech East, Radical, and a new incubator at UC Davis. In Europe, new agricultural incubators are being formed in Norway, Scotland, France, the Netherlands, and Denmark – just to name a few. Israel  has three! The United Kingdom established the Catalyst Fund and invested an additional £90 million to create agricultural innovation centres of excellence around the country. New Zealand and Ireland have recently established incubators – and I have barely touched the surface.  All of the aforementioned have an agricultural focus and the vast majority of these are, in some way, government supported.

In Canada, there are regional players like PEI BioAlliance, Innovacorp, and Ag-West Bio and then we have a national player in Bioenterprise. I think that it should be noted as a sidebar that British Columbia has assembled a commercialization eco-system to be admired and duplicated. (I look forward to discussing this in a future blog.)

As more and more accelerators and incubators spring up, some problems become very clear. First, many of them are regional players; basically economic development engines designed to build new businesses and attract others to their regions. The latter objective, (attracting businesses to a region) is incredibly difficult and should never be the burden of an accelerator or incubator.  It detracts from their most important objective; to build compelling and sustainable, new businesses.  Second, most are underfunded and lack the capacity and depth in resources to truly make a difference. Funding is often provided on a short-term basis and is subject to the whims of politicians and changes in government.  It is very difficult to build a critical mass of resources using that formula. The result is incubators that fall prey to the same dilemmas as the start-up companies they are trying to help. They end up being underfunded, under-resourced, and can only fade out of existence. They are not built for success. Third, agriculture and food are global industries. Start-up companies in these sectors require help on a much greater scale. They need access to markets, the experience of international executives and a global network that they can tap into for support. As a result, many of these commercialization groups will flounder.

Well, problems bring opportunities! Bioenterprise recently announced a strategic partnership with the Larta Institute in California. They are the only other agri-focused commercialization group with the history of success, pedigree, and breadth of resources similar to Bioenterprise. Together, we represent the largest agri-acceleration capacity in the world! And our organizations intend to capitalize on this unique position. While the details are still being ironed out, I think it can be said that this is only the beginning. It is through partnerships and collaborations between accelerators and incubators, regardless of their geography, that will provide the capacity and resources to truly make a difference… globally! And yes, the raison d’être for each of us can never be ignored but the leverage and global opportunities are so compelling.

As more and more commercialization organizations are created, there is a ground swell of new interest coming from multi-nationals and investors alike. Hopefully, more globally focused commercialization can present them with a smorgasbord of start-up companies and innovative technologies.

Yes, the landscape looks nothing like it did a decade ago, and the degree of change continues to accelerate. The future looks very bright indeed!

 

Dave Smardon
President & CEO 






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Mandatory GE-food labelling coming to the USA Part 1

Posted on November 09 2016 | Author: Admin

Read Mandatory GE-food labelling coming to the USA Part 1 from International Food Focus Ltd.’s President, Carol Culhane.  

 

©2016 International Food Focus Ltd., 211 Carlton Street, East Office, Toronto, ON M5A 2K9 E: focus@foodfocus.on.ca
Food Fax is archived at www.foodfocus.on.ca 






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Merger in Big Agriculture

Posted on November 02 2016 | Author: Alexander Lazier

$66 billion is the price agreed upon in the largest all-cash acquisition in history. In September of 2016, Bayer the German agrochemical giant, reached a deal after months of deliberations to acquire the American seed company, Monsanto. Outpours of public concern followed as the deal would result in history’s largest seed and agriculture company.

Lets look at the facts:

The total revenue produced by Monsanto in 2015 was $15 billion, while Bayer as a corporation produced $46 billion and its subsidiary Bayer CropScience, $12 billion. The acquisition of Monsanto will provide Bayer with 24 percent of the world’s pesticides, 29 percent of its seeds and 70 percent of the cottonseed market.

Public Concerns
A preliminary concern is that Bayer Crop Science dominates the agrochemical/pesticide industry, while Monsanto leads global seed production. An acquisition therefore is not consolidation of like-businesses, but rather a move for full supply-chain control, more aptly known as vertical integration.

Vertical integration of the two largest companies in their respective fields has strong potential to curb competition and thus increase the probability of price gouging. Although agricultural yields have increased over the years, so have crop prices. Therefore, the potential for price gouging poses large risks in keeping global crop prices elevated, which would have strong effects on related industries.

Lastly, the acquisition will leave farmers facing a duopoly in seed: Bayer/Monsanto and, Syngenta/ChemChina and an additional duopoly in chemicals: Dow/Dupont and Bayer/Monsanto.

Company Reassurances
Bayer and Monsanto have attempted to eliminate the negative buzz by outlining the positive benefits of the acquisition. Primarily, merging two businesses with differing expertise will facilitate faster, more effective R&D in the production of environmentally robust seeds, which are crucial to pest aversion and drought resistance as the world’s population skyrockets. With an annual R&D budget of $2.8 billion, the acquisition is hoping to advance seed research exponentially.

Additionally, as large regulatory hurdles must be passed to introduce novel biotechnology to the market, it is difficult for anyone but large players to compete. The unpredictable and lengthy process encourages consolidation and pushes for vertical integration, as it would be inefficient to do otherwise.

U.S. Government Reactions
The U.S. Senate has responded to the acquisition by assigning both the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to an investigation to ensure that the acquisition will not substantially lessen smaller scale competition.

Industry Reactions
The agriculture industry responded with mixed opinions. If Bayer is true to their claims, the acquisition will create an advanced seed landscape with an increased profile of products that will increase yield and minimizing losses. However, other growers remain skeptical and believe company-centered values and price hikes will eventually be the reality.

Wherever the public stands on this acquisition, the consequences will not begin to appear clear for months, if not years. While concern is indisputably warranted, the potential for great agricultural gains are equally at play. It is up to time to tell whether this potential will be met.  

 

Alexander Lazier
Junior Analyst, Agricultural Technologies

 

Sources
Monsanto brand name may get the circular file in proposed Bayer acquisition
Monsanto's latest acquisition could send food prices soaring
Why our food would be in danger from a Bayer-Monsanto merger

 

Photo
University of Wisconsin-Extension

 

 






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FDA Addresses Nutrition Label Issue for Small Amounts of Nutrients and Dietary Ingredients in Finalized Guidance Document

Posted on October 27 2016 | Author: Admin

As of the beginning of July 2016, the FDA has finalized the draft guidance document (originally drafted and released for consultation at the end of July 2015) on its policy about Nutrition Labels and how small quantities of nutrients and dietary ingredients should be declared by food and dietary supplement manufacturers.

The finalized guidance document acknowledges the conflict that sometimes may arise when being in compliance with two distinct sections of regulations and which regulation takes precedence in the discretion of the FDA. The two sections of FDA regulations (both from Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations [21 CFR] 101.9) where compliance could potentially be mutually exclusive are:

  • 21 CFR 101.9(c)(1)-(8): These regulations describe the nutrition-labelling requirements in declaring the nutrient values in a serving of conventional food. It specifies that in declaring nutrients, specific “rounding” rules have to be applied, where the stated value has to be to a distinct increment (ex. the quantitative amount of total fat present at 5 g or less must be rounded to the nearest 0.5 increment).  This regulation also specifies how the FDA tests for compliance to these values.
  • 21 CFR 101.9(g)(4)(ii) and (5): These regulations describe the compliance requirements for declaring dietary ingredients and nutrients in nutrition labelling.  These compliance provisions (sometimes referred to as the “20-20” rule) describes a product to be misbranded under the following two conditions:
    1. The amount of a naturally present vitamin, mineral, protein, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, other carbohydrate, polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat or potassium is less than 80% of the value for that nutrient declared on the label (21 CFR 101.9(g)(4)(ii)).
    2. The amount of calories, sugars, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, or sodium is more than 120% of the declared value for that nutrient (21 CFR 101.9(g)(5).

The conflicting values for a nutrient can arise when small quantities of nutrients have to be declared.  The rounding requirements under 101.9(c)(1)-(8) may result in a value being declared that exceeds the 20% deviation permitted in 101.9(g)(4)(ii) and (5).  An example would be a food containing 0.70 g of saturated fat per serving.  The quantity that should be declared according to 101.9(c)(2)(i) would be  0.5 g.  However this declaration would not comply with § 101.9(g)(5) because 0.70 g is more than 20 percent in excess of 0.5 g.

The FDA’s resolution  (“to be applied to all products in a consistent way” ) is based on the rationale that as the FDA’s nutrition labelling requirements in 21 CFR 101.9(c)(1)-(8) specifies the increments and units of measure for declaring nutrient values while 21 CFR 101.9(g)(4)(ii) and (5) does not, the “FDA considers it more practical and consistent” for manufacturers to follow paragraph (c)(1)-(8) when a conflict occurs between 21 CFR 101.9(c)(1)-(8) and 21 CFR 101.9(g)(4)(ii) and (5).

 

Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra provides sought-after food safety guidance, compliance consulting services and scientific guidance for food and health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. Since 2002, dicentra has been helping clients resolve complex scientific and safety issues, develop safe and effective market-leading products and facilitate timely regulatory approvals. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

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Bioenterprise and Women in Agriculture

Posted on October 19 2016 | Author: Jennifer Kalanda

Earlier this month, members from the Bioenterprise team attended the Advancing Women in Ag Conference in Toronto, Ontario.  It was the second Annual event in Toronto and the fourth across Canada.  Our team learned of this event last year and had since heard several positive reviews, determining that this event could be a great opportunity for several of us at Bioenterprise.

The conference was sold out and the banquet room was filled with more than 400 women from the entire value chain of agriculture.  Several topics and studies presented revealed that throughout agriculture, the industry is heavily dominated by men, and even more so, in executive level positions.  The conference also presented personal and professional development opportunities.  I personally found the presentations about leadership and time management to be my most valuable take-aways from the event. 

Some of the speakers discussed the importance of reducing barriers for women in agriculture, the challenges that lie ahead to do so, and the importance of inviting both genders to contribute to the conversation.  This discussion also stood out to me and fostered a sense of pride as an employee of Bioenterprise.

Bioenterprise was formed in 2003, with one office location and a very small team.  Bioenterprise has grown significantly since then – now with six office locations across Canada, nineteen full-time employees and two part-time positions.  We are even currently looking to fill two additional full-time openings on our team!

Our team has grown a lot, but what is interesting to note is how many of our positions are held by women.  Twenty-one employees total and THIRTEEN of them are women!  We also have two extremely well established women serving on our Board of Directors.

Some of my female colleagues and I have been with Bioenterprise for several years.  For the most part, we started out new to our roles or the industry itself, but we have been fortunate enough to receive the necessary support and opportunities to grow as professionals.  Dave Smardon, President & CEO, takes an active role in identifying areas for growth and then provides us with the tools to do so.  We have all been promoted or have advanced at Bioenterprise, demonstrating that gender just doesn’t seem to be a barrier within our organization.

The issues discussed at the Advancing Women in Ag Conference were certainly not lost on me and I truly learned a lot – but I am also proud to be a part of an organization that seems to be setting a positive standard.  

 

Jennifer Kalanda
Marketing Manager

 






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Food Fax

Posted on October 14 2016 | Author: Admin

 

Read the lasted Food Fax newsletter from International Food Focus Ltd.’s President, Carol Culhane.  

 

©2016 International Food Focus Ltd., 211 Carlton Street, East Office, Toronto, ON M5A 2K9 E: focus@foodfocus.on.ca
Food Fax is archived at www.foodfocus.on.ca 






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WHO Cares About Food Safety: Red Meat

Posted on October 13 2016 | Author: Admin

It was only last October that the World Health Organization (WHO) announced, based on a report from the International Agency of Cancer Research (IACR), that processed meats and red meats were carcinogenic.

The WHO, however, did not attempt to establish the degree of risk to the public or the actual nature of the risk. While they did assign an IACR Group 1 classification to processed meats and an IACR Group 2A classification to red meats, it is important to remember that a “group” simply refers to the weight of evidence available to support the carcinogenic designation; not to the actual level of risk involved.

It is not clear, therefore, if or to what degree the risks involved can be mitigated (for example, if they can be lessened by avoiding high temperature cooking or by avoiding certain methods of preservation). As a result, and as expected, sales of processed and red meats declined immediately following the announcement. What is perhaps surprising is that within just a few weeks, sales of such meats began to return to normal, as reported in a March 2016 Global News broadcast. The reasons for such a rebound may vary – perhaps people have short term memories, perhaps they began to doubt the WHO’s findings, perhaps they decided that the health benefits of such meats to outweigh the risks, or perhaps they find such meats too delicious to give up.

Of course, the potential risks should not be so readily dismissed. Estimates of cancer deaths, based on independent research conducted by the Global Burden of Disease Project, due to diets high in processed meats are about 34,000 worldwide per year, while those attributed to diets high in red meat are estimated at 50,000 per year. On the other hand, putting this into perspective, the number of deaths worldwide per year due to ingesting contaminated foods is about 420000, with 40% of those being children under the age of 5, and an additional 500 million+  individuals falling ill each year (according to the WHO’s own statistics).

While in the case of meats it is still unclear how to mitigate the overall risks, in the case of food contamination we do know how risks can be reduced and avoided.  This involves observing simple food safety practices throughout the supply chain, from the sourcing of raw materials to the dinner table. For consumers at home, this means proper handling, refrigeration, and cooking of foods. For industry, this means implementing HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) and adopting effective food safety programs.

Were producers, suppliers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers to take food safety more seriously and adopt simple but effective measures towards preventing contamination and adulteration, the global food supply would be far safer than were the WHO to declare an outright global ban of red meats.


Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra provides sought-after food safety guidance, compliance consulting services and scientific guidance for food and health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. Since 2002, dicentra has been helping clients resolve complex scientific and safety issues, develop safe and effective market-leading products and facilitate timely regulatory approvals. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article. 






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Proposed amendments to Canadian corporate and competition laws

Posted on October 11 2016 | Author: Admin

A bill amending the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA), the Competition Act and federal cooperatives and not-for-profit legislation was tabled for first reading in the Canadian parliament on September 28, 2016. The changes proposed (the Amendments) are intended to ensure that Canada continues to have a modern economic framework that allows federally regulated corporations to operate flexibly and innovatively. The Amendments are further intended to increase shareholder democracy and participation while reducing the burden of regulation.

CBCA amendments

Election of Directors

  • directors of public CBCA corporations will be required to be elected on an individual and annual basis. Currently the CBCA allows directors to be elected by slate and for up to a three-year term.
  • the Amendments introduce majority voting for the election of directors of public corporations where there is only one candidate nominated for each position available on the board. Each nominee must receive a majority of votes to be elected. If a nominee does not receive a majority of votes, he or she may not be appointed a director before the next shareholders’ meeting at which directors are elected.
  • the Amendments regarding election of directors bring the CBCA substantially in line with the requirements of the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). There will be prescribed exemptions for certain corporations from these requirements.  

Shareholder Communications

  • “notice-and-access” allows the notice of a shareholders’ meeting and access to related documentation to be delivered electronically. While securities legislation was amended in 2013 to introduce notice-and-access, the current provisions of the CBCA are not entirely compatible with the full use of notice-and-access by federal corporations. The Amendments, if enacted, will facilitate the use of notice-and-access by federal corporations.
  • the Amendments will simplify the time frame for a shareholder to submit proposals to a federal corporation by introducing a prescribed period for submission.

Women on Boards of Directors and in Management
To support the representation of women on the boards of directors and in senior management of federal corporations, it has been announced that the Amendments will require distributing corporations to include disclosure regarding gender diversity among their directors and senior managers. This will bring the CBCA in line with Canadian securities regulations pursuant to which TSX-listed issuers are currently required to make such disclosure on a “comply or explain” basis.

Transparency
The Amendments clarify that all shares and warrants of CBCA corporations must be in registered rather than bearer form to increase transparency.

Competition Act amendments
The definition of “affiliate” in the Competition Act is proposed to be amended to reflect a broader range of non-corporate bodies such as trusts, partnerships and other unincorporated entities by referring to entities rather than corporations.

Other legislation
The bill also proposes amendments to the Canada Cooperatives Act (CCA) and the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (NFP), which statutes are based on the CBCA. The Amendments to the CCA include changes regarding election of directors, transparency and shareholder communication described above. The Amendments to the NFP are largely of a technical nature.

Next steps
Regulations that will provide details of the Amendments and their application are pending. Further in its announcement of the Amendments, the federal government stated that there are important corporate governance issues that were raised in the 2014 public consultation on the CBCA by the government that require further analysis and consultation. Further changes to the CBCA may be coming.

More information to come
For more information on this development, please access the Government of Canada’s Backgrounder and FAQs.

 

Tracey Kernahan
Senior Knowledge Lawyer, Norton Rose Fulbright

 

Article provided by Norton Rose Fulbright

 

About Norton Rose Fulbright
Norton Rose Fulbright is a global legal practice that provides the world's pre-eminent corporations and financial institutions with a full business law service. Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers share food and agribusiness sector knowledge and experience across provincial and national borders, enabling them to support their clients anywhere in the world. To learn more about Norton Rose Fulbright, please visit www.nortonrosefulbright.com

 

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How to choose the right food & beverage co-packer

Posted on October 05 2016 | Author: Alexandra Coccari

Are you an entrepreneur in the food and beverage space? Is there an established market for your product? If so, you have probably considered scaling-up production to meet the consumer demand for your product. This can be done in one of two ways: investing and manufacturing the product in-house or outsourcing production through a contract manufacturer, otherwise known as a co-packer.

Many start-up food and beverage companies utilize co-packing facilities for a number of reasons. Some of the benefits include a lower production cost, increased efficiency, having the expertise of an experienced manufacturer on-site, and most importantly, cutting the costs of equipment and other capital purchases.

Choosing a co-packing facility may seem like a daunting task; however, creating a plan of attack will ease this process. There are a number of things to consider before deciding what co-packing facility is right for your company. The following are some tips and factors to consider before navigating the co-packing industry.

Establish your production process and needs. Understanding every detail of your production process is crucial when deciding which co-packing facility to choose. Where will you source the ingredients for your product? Does the facility have the equipment you need? Where will you source packaging materials? Does the facility have available storage space? These are just a few of the questions you should be ready to answer when seeking out the right co-packer. The more you know about your manufacturing process, the smoother the production run will be.

Consider manufacturing costs. It is extremely important to ensure that choosing to outsource the manufacturing of your product is not only efficient, but is often financially beneficial. A number of co-packing facilities have a minimum order quantity for each production run. If your start-up company is looking to do a smaller production run, it is likely that you will be charged a premium fee, which may not be feasible. On the other hand, manufacturing too much of a product in order to avoid these fees may be detrimental if you cannot sell it before the expiry date.

Confirm food safety and quality assurance policies. In addition to cleanliness and sufficient organization, it is imperative to ensure that proper safety and quality assurance policies are in place. Deciding which certifications that will appear on your product label will narrow down the co-packing facilities that are suitable for your company. Food safety certifications such as HACCP, GMP, and SQF will contribute to the quality of your product and reduce the risk of contamination. If your product requires any front-of-package certifications such as Organic, Kosher, Halal or Gluten-Free, confirm that the co-packing facility is capable of meeting these regulations.

Leverage any additional services offered. A number of co-packing facilities offer services designed to accelerate start-up companies. Many of the innovation-focused co-packing facilities will offer R&D services, including recipe development to very early-stage companies. If your company lacks in the marketing and branding development, a co-packer who offers such services would be very valuable and may save your company both money and time.

Do your research. Once you have narrowed your list of potential co-packing facilities, you should then conduct preliminary background research. What clients have they worked with in the past? Do these past clients give the facility good reviews? These are some of the questions that can be answered by asking the co-packer for a list of current clients and contacting them. This may make it easier to determine what working with the co-packer would be like.

The factors listed above are just a few considerations to review before choosing a co-packing facility. Co-packing facilities can help accelerate the growth of your company. Once you have identified and chosen a suitable co-packer, a contract outlining the details of your partnership should be drafted.  This will protect your product and may benefit your business in the long run.

Co-packing facilities are great resources for start-up food and beverage companies. Having a clear vision and a trusting relationship with your co-packer can lead to your company’s success. By leveraging the services offered, you could save valuable time and money.

 

Alexandra Coccari  
Junior Analyst, Food & Food Systems

 

Sources
5 things to consider when selecting a co-packer   
Three main steps to choosing a co-packer  
4 tips for scaling your food start-up with a co-packer  
How to choose the right co-packer for your supply chain needs

Photo 
Pixabay






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The Growing Safety Concern of Alpha Lipoic Acid and Hypoglycemia

Posted on September 29 2016 | Author: Admin

The Growing Safety Concern of Alpha Lipoic Acid and Hypoglycemia:
Marketed Health Products Directorate Issues ALA Summary Safety Review

August 08, 2016 Marketed Health Products Directorate provides Summary Safety Review for Alpha Lipoic Acid.

In an effort to increase transparency and consumer safety, Health Canada’s Marketed Health Products Directorate published a Summary Safety Review (SSR) on Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) on June 30, 2016. ALA is a medicinal ingredient generally used, in Natural Health Products (NHPs), as an antioxidant for the maintenance of good health and to help promote healthy glucose metabolism. ALA can also be used in NHPs, as a non-medicinal ingredient, with a preservative function. To date, Health Canada has licensed more than 800 NHPs containing ALA as a medicinal ingredient.

The Health Canada SSR issuance on ALA was prompted by reported international cases of Insulin Autoimmune Disorder (IAS) considered to be linked to the use of ALA containing products. IAS, also known as Hirata disease, is a rare case of serious and spontaneous Hypoglycemia. It is characterized by extremely low blood glucose, and extremely high insulin and insulin autoantibody levels. Current evidence suggests exposure to certain sulfhydryl-containing oral drugs such as ALA, in individuals with specific genetic predispositions, can induce Hypoglycemia and increase the risk of IAS. The reported cases demonstrate Hypoglycemia resolution following discontinuation of ALA oral consumption. At the time of the review, no Canadian cases of Hypoglycemia were reported as a result of ALA oral use. It is however unknown how prevalent the suspected genetic predisposition may be in the diverse Canadian population.

As a result of the SSR findings, Health Canada is looking into updating the ALA labelling standard risk information to inform consumers to discontinue product use and consult a healthcare professional if they experience symptoms indicative of Hypoglycemia (sweating, paleness, chills, headache, dizziness and/or confusion). Health Canada has also committed to publish a Health Product InfoWatch article to raise awareness of this potential risk and continue to monitor safety information involving ALA.


Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra provides sought-after food safety guidance, compliance consulting services and scientific guidance for food and health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. Since 2002, dicentra has been helping clients resolve complex scientific and safety issues, develop safe and effective market-leading products and facilitate timely regulatory approvals. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article. 






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Management vs. Leadership: A middle manager’s perspective

Posted on September 21 2016 | Author: Jessica Bowes

The organizational structure of a company largely depends on the nature and size of the business. With innovation at the core, entrepreneurial businesses need to promote regular interaction and communication among its internal teams, regardless of how it’s structured, in order to follow through on the founder’s vision for success. For start-ups and early stage businesses that are too small to departmentalize, management resources must be maximized.

Companies need leaders
There’s a fine line between management and leadership, but there is a difference. Managers plan, organize and coordinate whereas leaders should inspire and motivate.  A successful entrepreneur needs to be both a strong leader and manager.

Strong leaders put others ahead of themselves, and the team ahead of everyone.  They make their expectations clear, even when it’s uncomfortable. They push people outside of their comfort zones. And, they hold people accountable while empowering them to learn and grow.

True leadership is like an inverted pyramid, where an entire organization relies on a single leader to support their efforts by providing vision and strategic guidance. This becomes particularly important once your business grows and you hire new staff to carry out your vision for the company.

Leadership and management must go hand-in-hand

“Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could.”

-- Steve Jobs

As a manager, your duty is to implement company strategy in the most efficient way. You’re also responsible for creating an effective working environment, administrating the work process in compliance with organization’s requirements, leading people, and reporting to the highest level of management.

Functions of the role can typically be divided into 3 main categories, all of which can be profoundly impacted by the person’s leadership skills: Technical, Human Resources and Strategic.

Technical:
In the agri-technology sector, there is almost always an element of technical understanding required to manufacture, market or sell a product or service. Education and/or training of staff in this capacity may then play a significant part of the managerial role.  Relationships with staff that are built through patience, creativity, and supportive collaboration are indicative of good technical leadership.

Human resources:
Managers are also responsible for administering day-to-day routines, monitoring performance and making sure everything is done in compliance with company’s needs. One of the most important functions, directly associated with operational leadership, is motivating and inspiring staff to perform well. This also includes building a cohesive team and supporting team members when necessary.

Strategic:
Strategic functions of a manager may involve analyzing a group in terms of productivity and financial effectiveness, creating a strategy to improve the current situation and reporting to executive management.  Strong strategic leadership is grounded in understanding the relationship between the company and its environment, then thinking, acting and influencing the team to promote success. Strategic leadership is not limited as a task for a few top executives, but is needed throughout the company.

Every employee has the opportunity to lead
Fostering an environment where people feel empowered, appreciated, and genuinely happy to be part of the team will not only allow employees to shape and create their own futures, it will create career progression opportunities for employees to adapt, innovate and ultimately lead your company to success.

 

Jessica Bowes
Manager, Business & Technology Analyst Group

 

Sources 
Management vs Leadership: Five Ways They Are Different
The End of Middle Managers (And Why They’ll Never Be Missed)
The Three Strengths of a True Strategic Leader

 






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FSMA is Not Just Coming… FSMA is HERE!

Posted on September 15 2016 | Author: Admin

It’s been 5 years since you’ve first started hearing about looming FSMA deadlines. Now that the first deadline for 2016 has arrived, its time for you to understand how this will impact your business.

If your business is simply a retail or restaurant establishment, you initially may feel untouched by this legislation.  This assumption, however, may be very untrue.  Although FSMA is geared to food growers, manufacturers and distributors, businesses in other sectors that are not legally required to comply will still be impacted.  A supplier of ingredients to retail and restaurant business is fully impacted and so as a result, this will inevitably have an impact on all business not directly captured by the law.

It’s quite obvious that one of the main intentions of the new law is to give legislators at FDA more power to regulate and enforce.  The ultimate goal is to shift food industries from a reaction mode to a prevention mode. This shift will initially appear to be very costly and labor intensive, but the reduction in food safety incidents leading to recalls will outweigh all initial costs.

The first FSMA deadlines related to compliance to Preventative Controls for Human and Animal Feed are outlined below:

September 2016: Companies with more than 500 full-time employees
September 2017: Companies with fewer than 500 employees
September 2018: Companies with less than $1 million in average annual sales

Under FSMA each site will be required to have a “Preventative Control Qualified Individual” (PCQI).  A PCQI is required to have successfully completed training in the development and application of risk –based preventative controls.  This individual is responsible for:

  • Performing or overseeing the preparation of the food plan
  • Validating the preventative controls
  • Reviewing records for implementation and effectiveness of preventative controls
  • Appropriateness of corrective actions
  • Managing the required reanalysis of a food safety plant every three years or whenever changes occur

Being FSMA ready will mean moving from HACCP to HARPC as reviewed in previous articles.  While HACCP involves Critical Control Points (CCPs), HARPC involves controls that are not CCPs.

Supply chain control is essential and is obvious from the Foreign Supplier Verification Program.  This program has compliance deadlines in 2017, but has a huge impact on ingredients and foods coming into the U.S. from outside the country.

In order to import food from foreign suppliers, importers need to ensure they have:

#1. Determined known or reasonably foreseeable hazards with each food they are handling
#2. Evaluated the risk posed of the food they are importing based on the hazard analysis, and the foreign supplier’s performance
#3. Used the risk evaluation connected to the food and the supplier’s performance to approve suppliers and determine appropriate supplier verification activities
#4. Conducted supplier verification activities
#5. Conducted corrective actions

Since importers are responsible for their own food safety plans, they are expected to reevaluate these plans every three years. This involves conducting a Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls, or HARPC assessment on each item of food being imported, and verifying each supplier being used. Importers are also responsible for keeping detailed records of all data and analyses.

Under the Third Party Certification rule, FDA will be choosing accreditation bodies to implement the certification of qualified organizations who will confirm that the requirements of FSMA are being met.

This rule establishes a voluntary program for the accreditation of third party certification bodies, also known as auditors, to conduct food safety audit and issue certification of foreign facilities and the food for humans and animals they produce.  These certifications may be used by importers to establish eligibility for participation in the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) which offers expedited review and entry of food.  To prevent potentially harmful food from reaching U.S. consumers, the FDA can also require in specific circumstances that a food offered for import is accompanied by a certification from an accredited third party certification body.

This article has not dealt with every aspect of the FSMA requirements, but it will hopefully give you an understanding of the areas in your business that need to change in order to come into compliance with the new expectations.


Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra provides sought-after food safety guidance, compliance consulting services and scientific guidance for food and health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. Since 2002, dicentra has been helping clients resolve complex scientific and safety issues, develop safe and effective market-leading products and facilitate timely regulatory approvals. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article. 






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Business Networking: Tips and Results for Sustainable Growth.

Posted on September 01 2016 | Author: Admin

If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.
Margaret Fuller
(1810-1850, Journalist, Critic and Women’s Rights Activist)

Expanding your networks and building strategic partnerships play an integral role in successful and sustainable growth, especially in today’s society. The new economy - also called the digital economy has had, and continues to have, a remarkable impact on businesses and how they are creating awareness amongst others.

Nowadays, growing and maintaining business relationships have become much simpler thanks to technological advancements like cell phones or GoToMeeting and social media platforms such as LinkedIn. Building a network for your business is an important way to leverage different assets, create exposure, and ultimately learn in a mutually beneficial manor.

Pre-Networking
Prior to engaging in networking activities, it’s important to understand your strengths, weaknesses and what you are trying to gain from this experience. For example, if you are excellent at carrying conversations and enjoy large groups of people, consider participating in larger networking events, conferences or trade shows. If you are more the one-on-one type, meeting for coffee or smaller seminars may be more suitable for you to begin.

Take advantage of the different social platforms effectively, and make networking more efficient. For example, webinars are virtual learning sessions you can attend with others on a specific area of interest. These can be useful for a quick lunch-break networking. Another technological advancement that has impacted networking is GoToMeeting or conference programs via the Internet to communicate with people in different cities or even across the world. This makes it easy to decrease travel costs and increase connectivity.

Before choosing your networking event, it’s also important to take into consideration and determine the value in attending. What would you like to gain from this experience? Make new connections? Keep up to date on the latest industry trends? Strengthen existing relationships?

Here are several suggestions to consider, prior to engaging in a networking event:

  1. Research the organizations and key players who are attending. It demonstrates you’re prepared and keen to become connected. This can also help identify shared areas of interest, making it effortless to carry out a conversation. This can be done simply through searching LinkedIn profiles or company websites that contain employee information. After all, the information is there to be read!
  2. Make sure you’ve read about the event and know the details: time, place, what you should bring etc. It’s never a good feeling to be rushed or arrive late.
  3. Be prepared! Bring business cards, company handouts, pens, a notebook, etc. It is strongly recommended to prepare ahead of time, and decrease your chances of forgetting something.
  4. Dress to impress. This is an obvious one however there are always a few people who tend to overlook dress codes. Remember that it’s better to be slightly over dressed than under dressed. To simplify: Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak. –Rachel Zoe
  5. Consider preparing a list of people you’d like to talk to, questions or topics you may wish to discuss or what it is you want to gain from the event.
  6. Don’t go into a conversation expecting something. The best interactions are genuine and on the basis of goodwill. 
  7. Be kind, polite and sincere to everyone because you never know who could be joining in on a conversation or passing by.
  8. Keep an open mind. Opportunities arise quickly and you never know whom you’re going to meet or how you may be able to help one another.
  9. Make sure you’re rested! Sleep is obviously very important.  

Let the Networking Begin
When you’ve reached your networking event, it’s always important to be alert and aware. You don’t want to miss out on any potential opportunities. Keep your goals in mind and if necessary, take frequent breaks to ensure you’re on track.

Try to avoid hesitation when intimidated by someone you wish to speak with. We all can learn from one another so take the opportunity to seek what you are looking for, stay optimistic and keep your head up. Don’t forget to hand out your business cards or information and vice versa. Collecting others information will help with the follow-ups. Go for it and take a few risks! 

Post-Networking
Post-networking is crucial for truly harnessing those relationships. This is the time for follow-ups and next steps. It’s important to make the effort to email or call the connections you’ve made to thank them for their time or ask any additional questions. This can further open the relationship up to future interactions and opportunities for collaboration. Add your new connections on LinkedIn to broaden your network and to stay in touch through a social media platform targeted specifically towards networking!

The benefits from networking are very helpful to sustainably grow your company. These outcomes can benefit you in a range of ways. You could meet investors who show interest in your company, professionals who want to join your team or even gain new clients. You will also continue to grow and learn as an individual. While all of this is happening, you are simultaneously creating exposure and establishing a reputable image for you and your company!

So my advice to you is to keep calm and network on!


Elisha Amar
Corporate Program Assistant


Sources
5 reasons networking is necessary for start-ups
Business quotes for sharing knowledge
Tom Farley networking tips

Photo
Pixabay






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Category Specific Guidance Finalized: Temporary Marketing Authorization for Supplemented Food

Posted on August 31 2016 | Author: Admin

Supplemented Food guidance document has been finalized by the Food Directorate with an extension for Supplemented Food TMAL holders

In addition to the Caffeinated Energy Drink (CED) guidance document that was finalized in 2013, the Food Directorate has published the long awaited final Temporary Marketing Authorization for Supplemented Food Guidance Document this past February. This guidance document has been long awaited by both companies currently developing new formulations, since it provides guidance on acceptable quantities of vitamins and minerals that may be added to a supplemented food, but also by companies whom currently hold TMALs set to expire August 31, 2016.


A few interesting highlights of this new guide are as follows:

  • Definition: Supplemented food has been defined as “a pre-packaged product that is manufactured, sold or represented as a food, which contains added vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbal or bioactive ingredients. These ingredients may perform a physiological role beyond the provision of nutritive requirements.” A key point here is that it is now permissible to submit a product through the TMA process that contains only herbal or bioactive ingredients (with no vitamin or mineral fortification) for review. Additionally, the guide provides a subset of novel ingredients that are being permitted in the TMA pathway as per Appendix 2 of this guidance document, see more on this below.
  • Extension: TMALs set to expire on August 31, 2016 have received an extension to comply with the new guide until February 22, 2017. Although to maintain market access beyond February 22, 2017 you must be compliant with this guide, as well as any other applicable Food and Drug Regulations provisions and provide an updated copy of the TMA and label with a letter outlining the revisions to the formula by August 31, 2016. Acceptable products will then be extended until December 31, 2021.
  • 2 Pathway system: Supplemented foods will now be categorized into a pathway system based on the potential for adverse effects. In short the 2 pathways are as follows:
    • Path 1 – Intended for a general subpopulation (children ≥4 years old) with maximum levels of addition of ingredients based on a per serving
    • Path 2 – Intended for a subpopulation  ≥14 years old with maximum levels of addition of ingredients based on a per day. This pathway will also have a threshold for vitamin and mineral fortification which when exceed will trigger specific cautionary labelling statements.
  • Revision to vitamins and minerals not accepted for addition: Consistent with the feedback that Health Canada provided in several regulatory sessions, they have amended the list of ingredients not permitted for addition. Importantly calcium and manganese have been removed from this section and are now permitted in Path 2 (products not intended for children) supplemented food products in quantities specified in this guide.
  • Novel Ingredients: Appendix 2 of this guidance document has now been populated with specific novel ingredients that are eligible for consideration in a supplemented food product. Although, it is worth noting that when an ingredient from this Appendix is added, the Food Directorate cannot commit to the timelines outlined in their performance standards guidance document, and it could delay the TMAL significantly.
  • Unique Identifier: No definitive guidance has been provided yet, but Health Canada has indicated that they are exploring the possibility of a front-of-pack identifier on the label of supplemented foods so that consumers can easily identify them. Health Canada has currently developed several options, which have not yet been disclosed, and will test them with consumers.
  • Market Research Protocol (MRP): For companies that have already received TMALs they may be aware that they are required to provide data in the form of a MRP on their product to address data gaps to aid in the development of specific regulations for supplemented foods. While TMAL holders of Caffeinated Energy Drinks have been advised that they are expected to prepare a MRP and collect data in accordance with this protocol, supplemented food holders had not yet been advised that they must begin this requirement. Once a TMAL holder of a supplemented food receives their final extension, as discussed above, they will be advised of their expected research requirements to fulfil this obligation in their Letter of Agreement.

In summary, the finalized Supplemented Food guidance document is an overdue, appreciated guidance regarding the requirements of a fortified food (outside of foods that are already permitted to be fortified in the Food and Drug Regulations). This guidance should help many companies develop unique and novel products that have a legal path to market without worry of Health Canada reformulation requests.
 

Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra provides sought-after food safety guidance, compliance consulting services and scientific guidance for food and health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. Since 2002, dicentra has been helping clients resolve complex scientific and safety issues, develop safe and effective market-leading products and facilitate timely regulatory approvals. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article. 


 






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The New Age of Advertising

Posted on August 24 2016 | Author: Admin

Facebook, Twitter and many other channels have millions of users, so why not take advantage?

Social media advertising is dramatically shaking up the marketing industry. With lower costs, higher returns and available reporting metrics, it seems obvious why countless organizations are focusing on this outlet. Social media advertising allows you to deliver the right message, to the right people, at the right time.

The most revolutionary and unique aspect of social media advertising is the number of target selections available to focus on a specific group of individuals. Below are just a few examples of the possible target options:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Education
  • Interests
  • Friends
  • Relationship Status
  • Actions Taken
  • Occupation
  • Location
  • Friends of Friends
  • Job Title



Advertising budgets can go a long way over social media. With the benefit of spending as much or as little as you’d like, it helps enhance the quality and reach of your campaigns, to promote your brand to the right audience. Primarily, targeted advertisements should be your focus, but also note that it is important to create blanket-marketing messages that appeal to a wider group of people as well.


Determine An Outcome
Before creating your campaign; outline your goals and objectives to best tailor your advertisement. Monitor and analyze the channel’s metrics frequently to determine if these goals are being met.

The three most important metrics are below and they display how your campaign is performing:

  • Click through rate (CTR): Measures the number of clicks on your advertisement VS. the number of impressions received (clicks divided by impressions). This shows how relevant your content is to your audience as well as traffic quality. Higher is better.
  • Conversion Rate: Tracking the landing page visits from your campaign provides an idea of the quality of clicks it is receiving, which can help to better develop content for future campaigns. Calculate by dividing conversions by number of clicks. Higher is better.
  • Cost Per Conversion (CPC): Each campaign should have a clear goal or call-to-action (ex. Newsletter signups, sales, web traffic, etc.). To calculate the return on investment of your goal, divide the amount of money spent by the number of conversions (provided in your metrics). This assesses your campaign’s profitability and also helps determine a potential future budget. Lower is better.


Choose A Channel
Each platform offers various tools and reporting outcomes. Therefore, analyzing which is the most appropriate for your marketing objectives is essential for success.

Facebook

  • Pro: Facebook is a great option for small businesses because it has the largest audience and can easily boost visibility for the company and its advertisements. Also, it has many targeting options such as: gender, location, education, workplace and relationship status that help reach the right individuals more accurately.
  • Con: Compared to other channels, Facebook provides minimal information for reporting on the performance of your campaigns.
  • Cost: This is one of the most cost effective channels, with the option to spend as little as $1 per day.

Twitter

  • Pro: Twitter has the target option to reach people based on their current interests. Using hashtags helps target the advertisements more specifically, similar to Google Adwords.
  • Con: Despite the convenience of hasthags, other Twitter advertising options do not offer the same ease, with a limited selection of targets to choose from.
  • Cost: There are three different options, but the most frequent and least expensive is promoting tweets.  For approximately $0.5-$2.00 per engagement (retweet, favourite, click, etc.), you can boost the reach of a tweet you wish to promote.

LinkedIn

  • Pro: The best aspect of LinkedIn advertising is the user base, which are mainly business professionals. Similar to Facebook, you have the ability to target specific groups through location, titles and demographics, for example.
  • Con: Although there is a higher conversion rate, this platform provides a very low click through rate. Generally, the users behind the clicks are much more qualified than compared to other social media networks.
  • Cost: LinkedIn is one of the more costly networks, averaging of up to $4-5 per click.  However, since it hosts a greater audience quality, your campaign reaches only those who are immediately interested, which may be worth the extra cost.


Create an Advertisement
Now that you’ve determined your campaign goals and the appropriate channel to use, you can begin to create your advertisement. Consider the following when developing the campaign:

  • Be consistent: Create the ad so its parallel with your company message and culture
  • Be informal: Use language that is similar to how your audience converses over social media
  • Be honest: Display your brands uniqueness and culture so your advertisements appear genuine
  • Be concise: You only have a few moments to grab their attention so be sure to make a good impression
  • Be obvious: Incorporate a call-to-action, make it clear what you want them to do
  • Be visual: Always include images for a greater impact and the potential to increase click through rates

Advertising through social media has created endless possibilities. To use it effectively, you need to be frequently engaged, create quality resources for your audience and analyze the metrics provided. Only by analyzing your outcomes and productively utilizing the appropriate channels, will your company be able to refine its voice on social media and truly communicate with the right audience.

Rebecca Reynolds
Marketing & Events Assistant

 

Sources
www.pennapowers.com
www.hootsuite.com
www.hubspot.com


 






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Nurturing Relationships with Sponsors

Posted on August 10 2016 | Author: Kelly Laidlaw

Congratulations! You created an attractive service offering that provides great benefits to corporate sponsors.  Next, you entered into formal business partnerships with corporate sponsors. But how do you nurture these relationships so that they last? Below are some ways to ensure long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships with your valued sponsors.

Know your sponsors. Take the time to truly understand their short-term and long-term strategic business goals in order to help them succeed. Also, learning their preferred communication style (phone, email, face-to-face, etc.) will help to enhance communication and strengthen your partnership.

Don’t play favourites. Make it a priority to treat each sponsor fairly regardless of company size or sponsorship level. Maintaining a list or chart to track the benefits that each sponsor has received will ensure that everyone is presented with equal opportunities. Also, it’s important to set clear expectations about how you’ll approach competitors.

Set clear expectations. This will help minimize disappointments and misunderstandings to ensure that both parties are in agreement of what the partnership entails. Manage any conflict that should arise with grace, and your relationship could grow stronger because of it.

Be thoughtful. Seemingly small things such as pronouncing names correctly and remembering birthdays go a long way to show that you value and appreciate your business relationships.

Promote your sponsors. You partnered with your sponsors because you believe in their company, so let your network know how much you value the partnership. This could lead to mutually beneficial relationships between those in your network and your sponsors. Promoting your sponsors on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) websites, newsletters, blogs, events, and by word of mouth will provide your sponsors with recognition and industry visibility to a target audience that they may otherwise not have the chance to reach.

Be honest and transparent. Let your sponsors know what you’re up to by sharing your success stories, sending them your company newsletters, and inviting them to attend industry events with you. All of these are opportunities to build your relationship while letting your sponsors understand your mission. Plus, sharing this information with your sponsor may spark new ideas for collaboration.

Ask for feedback. Check in with your sponsors frequently to ensure that they’re getting what they need from the partnership, and ask if there is any room for improvement. This may develop into a great opportunity to discuss new ideas or to discover additional ways that you could collaborate. 

Treating your sponsors with honesty and respect, while returning value to the sponsors, is a surefire way to ensure your valued relationships last.

 

Kelly Laidlaw
Program Manager, Corporate Relations
 






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Maximizing Online Entrepreneurship Education Opportunities

Posted on July 27 2016 | Author: Carolyn Dowling

There are numerous online educational opportunities that can be accessed to enhance your personal or professional aptitude beyond the textbooks and lectures of conventional school learning. The demand for online courses is rapidly increasing due to the shear increase in accessibility to and reliance on high-speed Internet, the explosion of “convenience culture” fostered by Generations X and Y, and the rise of “Do-It-Yourself” and entrepreneurship. Since entrepreneurship is the name of the game for Bioenterprise, maximizing free online education is critical for our entrepreneurs from where to begin with a concept for a new technology, product or service all the way down the commercialization pathway for how to secure retail shelf space and investment.

Although a number of Canadian colleges and universities have started to offer in-class and online entrepreneurship training and education, there may be limited industry-specific case studies, examples, and resources available through these academic routes. It is often beneficial to test-drive these programs through a free online portal and create your own curriculum that you can then complement with other industry sources. If you discover some courses with fees, be sure to investigate if an “audit” option is available, so that you can determine what works for you without necessarily investing your hard-earned dollars.

One of the most popular online platforms is massive open online course (MOOC) provider, Coursera. Although the options range from business to data science to engineering, all courses are based on a professional compilation of short video lectures, interactive quizzes, some peer-graded assessment, and virtual forums for connecting with fellow learners and instructors from top universities and colleges. For example, the University of Maryland offers an Entrepreneurship Specialization composed of three top-ranked courses: “Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship”, “Innovation for Entrepreneurs: From Idea to Marketplace”, and “New Venture Finance: Startup Funding for Entrepreneurs”.  These courses provide a general introduction to entrepreneurship, industry, markets and capital.


EdX is another virtual MOOC provider founded by Harvard University and MIT to offer courses from the world’s best institutions covering most of the same topics as Coursera. Again, EdX offers a number of programs in the entrepreneurship stream. Specifically, “Entrepreneurship 101: Who is your customer?” is a good place to start to identify the right direction to take your business in.

Aside from the virtual classrooms offered by Coursera and EdX, the enterprise-learning portal, Degreed, offers a curated collection of articles and videos from online resources. Specifically, Degreed’s “Entrepreneurship Learning Pathway” includes a series of lessons from a foundational overview of entrepreneurship to practical applications of entrepreneurship in action.  Some of the advanced topics include “Women Entrepreneurs”, “Economic Development” and “Global Perspective”.

MaRS Discovery District is a notable Canadian hub connecting entrepreneurs with resources, talent, and tools necessary to succeed. One of their flagship resources is the “Entrepreneur’s Toolkit”, which include a library of resources, hands-on workshops, as well as Canada’s largest live and online entrepreneurship course, “Entrepreneurship 101”. MaRS also offers a Certificate in Entrepreneurship in collaboration with the University of Toronto if you want to take your online learning to the next level. More recently, MaRS introduced the online portal “Bizsmarts”, which is a joint project with Futurpreneur Canada and Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE) that provides a wealth of resources from basic start-up costs up to raising investment dollars.

Whether you are considering starting a business on your own or expanding your current business, knowledge is an invaluable tool in the entrepreneur tool belt. The examples above are but a few of the online education forums available for entrepreneurs. Keep in mind the same theory applies to all free online programs – you get out what you put into it. Ongoing engagement with peers and instructors, studying real-life scenarios and case studies, and finding programs that are relevant to your company, stage, product/technology, goals and even tailored to your learning style will be critical success factors in maximizing your online education experience.
 

Carolyn Dowling
Senior Analyst

Sources:
http://www.startupist.com/2015/01/06/entrepreneurship-in-coursera-three-courses-you-should-sign-up-for-this-january/
http://articles.bplans.com/11-excellent-free-online-courses-for-entrepreneurs/

 






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What’s the Difference – HACCP vs HARPC?

Posted on July 22 2016 | Author: Admin

There is some confusion over HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) and the more-recent food-safety plan, HARPC (Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls) that is part of FSMA.

Just to recap, 6 out of 7 rules of FSMA have now been published, and if you are a U.S. based food operation, you need to be actively working out how to comply.  One of the key questions that food processing companies are struggling with is how to use HACCP to shift to HARPC. So what’s all the fuss about?  What are the main differences between these two systems?

HACCP is a global standard that was developed in the late 1950’s by a team of engineers from Pillsbury, the U.S. Army’s Natick Research Labs and NASA which joined forces to make a global food safety standard in line with Codex Alimentary. Originally the point of developing a HACCP System was to ensure quality and food safety, specifically for the manned space program.  In 1974, the U.S. FDA incorporated its concepts into its low acid and acidified food regulations, and by the end of 1980’s, McDonald’s started requiring all of its suppliers to adhere to HACCP in order to ensure the food being served in its restaurants were safe. The key motivation for implementing HACCP was not the requirement to meet regulations.  The real motive for implementing HACCP was simply to gain more market share.  Most large companies followed McDonald’s lead and HACCP became the standard to measure food safety. Later, in 1989, the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) published the first official HACCP document, which standardized the process by presenting seven principles as follows:
 

  1. Hazard Analysis
  2. Critical Control Point Identification
  3. Establishment of Critical Limits
  4. Processes for Monitoring
  5. Corrective Actions
  6. Record Keeping
  7. Establishment of Verification Procedures.

At this point in time, the standard for food safety was very clear, and HACCPs use spread globally. In contrast, HARPC is not a global standard, but an updated U.S. standard that was incorporated into the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) on July 4th, 2012. HARPC applies to almost all-food processing facilities in the United States.  The only facilities not required to comply with HARPC are those subject to the Standards of Produce Safety, those already governed by HACCP and those facilities regulated by Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for Dietary Supplements. Small and very small businesses, as defined by FDA are also exempt.  HARPC requires facilities to:
 

  1. Conduct a hazard analysis for all food processing procedures
  2. Develop and implement preventative controls, and then monitor their effectiveness
  3. Provide a detailed plan in writing, describing how the hazards will be controlled, the preventative controls, and a schedule and method for monitoring the controls
  4. Verify the effectiveness of the controls and maintain written records of the verification
  5. Re-analyze the HARPC Plan at least every three years; more often as new product lines are added or changes are made to equipment or process.

HARPC takes HACCP a step further and includes planning and assessing risk that might occur as a result of contamination from the environment.  Even though cleaning and sanitation are not CCPs under HACCP, in HARPC cleanliness and sanitation become key preventative steps that need to be controlled.

Finally a very key difference in these two systems is that HARPC also includes risk assessments resulting from potential terrorist acts, intentional adulteration and food fraud. Under HARPC, it is expected that a food processing facility has a food defense plan that includes security, visitor access and control.

In summary, six out of seven FSMA rules are already passed with compliance deadlines for larger companies coming up as early as November 2016.  It’s important for you to understand what your organization needs to have in place in order to meet these new requirements.
 

Rule Final Rule Published  
  
Compliance Non Small    
 
Compliance Small  
  
Compliance Very Small   
 
PC Human Food    11/16/2015 11/16/2016 11/16/2017  11/16/2018
PC Animal Food    1/26/2016 1/26/2017 1/26/2018 1/26/2019
FSVP 11/27/2015 3/17/2016 9/17/2017 9/17/2017
Produce Safety 11/27/2015 1/26/2017 1/26/2018 1/26/2019
Sanitary Transport 4/6/2016 4/6/2017 4/6/2018 N/A
Food Defense 5/27/2016 5/27/2017 5/27/2018 5/27/2019
Third Party Certification                           11/27/2016 01/26/2016 01/26/2016 

01/26/2016  


Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra provides sought-after food safety guidance, compliance consulting services and scientific guidance for food and health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. Since 2002, dicentra has been helping clients resolve complex scientific and safety issues, develop safe and effective market-leading products and facilitate timely regulatory approvals. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article. 


 






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Feeding The World Requires A Surprising Ingredient

Posted on June 08 2016 | Author: Admin

National Agriculture Day is set aside in America to recognize and celebrate the abundance of food provided by the agricultural sector. The date this year is March 15, so now seems a good time to celebrate how far agriculture has come and think about how far we still need to go in order to feed the world.

The Great Food Divide
The Green Revolution of the 1970s was one of the most transformative times global agriculture has seen. We dramatically increased the availability and reduced the cost of basic grains, which made many foods less expensive. With more disposable income, because families didn’t have to spend so much on rice and wheat, people could enjoy a more diverse diet with more protein.

Today in the developed world, food diversity and security are so taken for granted that attention has turned to premium-priced, specialty foods, sometimes sardonically called “food for the 1 percent.” Examples include non-GMO and organic foods; free range poultry and eggs; locally sourced “artisanal” meats, vegetables and dairy products; gluten-free and lactose-free foods, among many others. These trends get media and consumer attention for their purported health benefits; but realistically, they are out of reach in terms of cost or availability for most of the world’s population.

To be clear, we have nothing against “food for the 1 percent” trends, especially if it means more money for growers and producers. But by 2050, the United Nations estimates we’ll need to feed an additional 1 billion people, an expected global population of 9.6 billion. By some estimates, this will require us to produce as much food in the next 25 years as has been produced in the past 10,000 years.

To address the need, a new Green Revolution is underway, one that combines biotechnology with smarter agricultural practices and equipment, to take the next step toward higher crop yields in the face of declining land available for farming. However, for us to succeed in the face of expected population trends, another, less visible ingredient is needed: infrastructure.

The Critical Ingredient: Infrastructure
If farmers are to provide all strata of society with the fresh, healthy foods – while also ensuring that farming continues as a livelihood for many around the world, the logistical costs inherent in the global food system must be reduced. Infrastructure is just as vital to the success of the newest Green Revolution as seed and crop nutrients are.

Roads and Rail
Roads and rail link farmers to crop inputs and offer access to competitive markets, where they can sell their crops for a better price than what may be available locally. Yet in many countries, roadways and rail transportation are antiquated, or worse, non-existent. The U.S. State Department estimates that nearly one-third of global agricultural production either arrives in poor condition or never makes it to consumers at all. This is waste the 99 percent cannot afford.

In Brazil, the world’s ninth largest economy continues to struggle because its transportation infrastructure isn’t keeping up with its economic progress. Many Brazilian highways cannot support the largest, most efficient tractor-trailer units; instead, smaller, less efficient vehicles navigate dusty or gravel roads.

In Africa, less than 50 percent of the rural population lives close to adequate roads, making it difficult for farmers to advance beyond feeding their own families and local villages.

Proper Storage
Proper storage is another critical component of infrastructure. Governments and the private sector can help here by providing incentives and financing for farmers to band together to build the kinds of storage facilities that will enable them to keep their crops dry and available year-round to markets, not just in season. Refrigerated storage is needed to make fresh, healthy foods available to urban populations. This takes financing and electricity.

Infrastructure: Key to Food for the Future
Strong infrastructure – such as roads, rail routes, storage, and refrigeration, which the developed world takes for granted – is hugely important to keeping smallholder farming profitable and to ensuring that fresh, healthy foods reach the billions of the earth’s inhabitants. National governments and international development organizations recognize the need and are taking steps. But in the race against hunger in the face of a burgeoning population, ever more creative and entrepreneurial talent will be needed to develop infrastructure solutions.

 

Written by: David Turner, Managing Partner at Kincannon & Reed

About Kincannon & Reed
Kincannon & Reed recruits leaders for organizations that feed the world and keep it healthy. Their focus is on the interrelated realms of food, agribusiness, and life science. Their clients range from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, as well as investment funds, financial institutions, industry associations, universities, and non-profit and development organizations. This sector knowledge streamlines the search process and enables them to better asses a candidates organizational fit and more compellingly present to them a client’s opportunity. In addition, the principals at Kincannon & Reed are former senior executives from the sectors they serve. This distinctive difference allows them to understand at a personal level, not just at an intellectual level, the environment in which you operate. The result is a quality conversation around your needs and a smoother recruitment process. To learn more about Kincannon & Reed, visit: www.KRsearch.com

 






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How To Invest In Your Employees Beyond Giving A Raise

Posted on June 01 2016 | Author: Admin

When it comes to retaining your team, money isn’t everything.

Sure, salary increments are always going to be an employee’s top concern, but there are other ways to show value that doesn’t equate to another zero on the end of a paycheque. Personal investments are often more valuable and effective than financial increases, and will set the path for a mutually beneficial relationship.

Everyone wants to earn more, but increasing an employee’s salary doesn’t address other issues that often equate to a high turnover. By approaching your staff as people first, and employees second, you will be creating a company that cares about its team on a deeper level. In many cases, it will motivate the team further.

Whether you’re a small business owner or a Fortune 500 company, there are several ways to advance an employee without a title change or payment increase:

Offer flexible work schedules A study by Millennial Branding shows 45 per cent of this generation prefer workplace flexibility over higher pay. And with 75 per cent of the workforce expected to be made up of Millennials by 2025, managers can often attract and retain their team by foregoing the traditional 9 to 5. Implementing flexible hours can be a huge perk for working parents who are juggling their children’s schedules and daycare on top of their professional duties.

Offer staff the option of working from home a few days a week, or allow them to start and end the work day any time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. The key for managers to adapt this approach is to first establish trust, set measurable targets and expectations and communicate effectively.

Say thank you It’s amazing what these two little words can do for your company. Yet despite it’s simplicity, so many managers forget to say it. Appreciation and acknowledgment are  pillars of any successful relationship, whether it be with your spouse, friends, or staff. It is amazing what a simple Thank You card, or even a quick email can do for the morale. It can even propel an underperforming employee to step up her game, as the reason for her slump may be due to feeling taken for granted.

Hitting a quarterly target or bringing in new clients are perfectly good reasons to say congratulations and express thanks; however, don’t forget the small actions that lead to those big achievements. Thank someone for showing up to every meeting on time, helping on-board a new employee, or even cleaning up in the lunchroom. Just make sure it’s sincere and delivered authentically so that they understand they’re appreciated.

Provide professional development Investing in your employees’ skills sends several messages. The first is that you want to foster a long-term relationship and cultivate their future. The second is that you’re open to giving them more responsibility by adding to their skill sets. And finally, that you don’t want them to get bored in their current role. Whether it’s a night course, weekend workshop, or in-office training, offering continued education will not only help build loyalty but also propel your company further by advancing your team’s skills. In all, it’s a win-win.

Whether you implement flexible work hours, exercise more appreciation, or offer professional development, these investments will do wonders for your workplace culture and morale. A company that sees their team as people rather than merely staff is an invaluable metric that far outweighs the dollar sign.

 

Provided by: Financial Post
By Mandy Gilbert, CEO of Creative Niche

Click here to view the original article. 






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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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Starting With Social Media

Posted on May 13 2016 | Author: Admin

Social media can be a valuable resource for marketing your company affectively and affordably. There are numerous channels and resources to utilize, which could be intimidating if you’re new to many of them. But the potential growth and business exposure could be significant, even for the smallest of marketing budgets.

Social media enables companies to be more engaged, while promoting their business in a very simple and direct manner. Traditional marketing can be pricey in comparison to marketing over social media platforms – which can be as simple as posting a comment that your followers can discuss, and thus generating exposure for your company. You’ll invest in time what you save in dollars.

Steps To Success

1. Do Your Research
With many social media platforms, it’s important to know which is more appropriate to support your company’s goals. For example, if your social media target is to build stronger brand loyalties, Facebook is the best platform. Or if you’d like to develop more business-to-business relationships, than focus your efforts on LinkedIn.

Understanding each platform’s audience and using them correctly can grow your following and minimize your future social media efforts. For a summary on some of the most popular platforms, see the image below.

2. Create Your Accounts
To start, it is most effective to focus on one or two platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter for example. When creating your accounts, ensure that your profiles enable your customers to contact you:

  • Profile Photo: Usually the company logo is the most effective image.
  • Website URL: No matter what platform you use, your website URL should always be accessible.
  • Location: On platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn, including your location can help your customers find your business easily.
  • Contact Information: Including a phone number or e-mail on your account can help facilitate interactions with potential customers.

3. Time To Connect
Once your profile and all relevant information are up and ready, you can begin following and connecting your network. Be sure to connect with your employees as they are usually the most eager and ready to share company information. You should consider following other companies and contacts in your industry, news stations, government bodies and even your competitors.

4. Plan Before You Post
Each social media platform has varying applications and logistics. To explain further, Twitter is much more rapid and quickly consumed compared to Facebook which is more about posting quality over quantity. Every platform needs specific and active attention in order to be utilized successfully. Consider creating a schedule of the type of content and when to post it to help track and organize all the information you are sharing.

A rule of thumb known in social media is the 80/20 rule. It suggests that only 20% of the content you post should promote your company directly and could include posting useful statistics, testimonials, sales promotions and more. For the other 80% of content, you should consider posting interesting information, like relevant news articles, industry trends as well as responding and interacting with your network. The 80/20 rule is a helpful guideline because it encourages you to focus on your audience’s interests, in order to engage with them sufficiently. 

5. Combine Your Efforts
If used effectively, social media has the ability to enhance your online exposure as well as drive more traffic to your website. When appropriate, sharing content from your website (Company or Industry News, Services Offered, etc) can assist with creating awareness as well as drive traffic to your website. Another example of great content to share is the company blog, further promoting the knowledge and expertise within your company.

6. Respond, Retweet, Repeat
Company social media accounts are not all just posting. It is equally as important to be active and responsive with your social media community, which includes responding in a prompt and timely manner, especially in regards to negative comments. A timely response can assist with demonstrating the importance your company places on customer service. Monitor your feeds and be mindful of what your following is discussing as well as industry trends and news. This will help you target your content towards the topics your audience is interested in and help gather a strong following.

7. Keep The Connections
Make sure your network can follow you! Make links to your social media platforms readily available.

  • Place social media icons on your website, either at the top or bottom for your website, ensuring the icons are visible on majority of the pages.
  • Add social media share buttons under your blog posts as well as links in your email signatures
  • Consider adding a live feed from your most active social media platforms to the homepage of your website.

Although this is just scratching the surface, mastering the basics for maintaining and growing your social media network will help make it a more manageable and worth-while time investment for your company.

 

Rebecca Reynolds
Marketing & Events Assistant 

 

Sources:
www.socialmediaexaminer.com
www.businessnewsdaily.com
www.socialmediatoday.com

Photo:
www.marketingleap.net
 






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Using Case Studies to Improve Internal Business Operation

Posted on April 27 2016 | Author: Britney Hess

Using Case Studies to Improve Internal Business Operation

Internal case studies can introduce a company’s values to employees. They can also be used as an effective tool to evaluate key lessons learned, including best practices and potential areas for improvement.


Why should you use case studies for training new employees?
In a small start-up, it can be easy to maintain communication flow between the founder or CEO and the small team that is driving the business forward. Growth is often a goal of smaller start-ups, however many challenges can be associated with it, including the onboarding process. Internal case studies can be used as a time-sensitive training method to convey the organization’s values, processes, and key historical events (e.g. important clients or pivot points). Additionally, they can stimulate discussions around improving internal processes.

What does an internal case study look like?
A typical business case study is a detailed account of what happened in a particular company, industry, or project over a set period of time. Having case studies from several departments in the organization helps to give employees a broad understanding of the company’s goals.

The reader is given details about the situation, often in a historical context. Objectives and challenges are outlined, followed by actions taken, conclusions, and lessons learned from the experience.

What are the benefits of using internal case studies?

  • Expedites the onboarding process - faster understanding of company culture and history.
  • Stimulates discussion - allows conversations to start regarding best practices.
  • Prevents repeat mistakes – learning from the past.

Getting started – how should you write a case study for training purposes?

  • The goal is to capture an interesting situation or challenge, and then bring it to life with words and information. Creating a story line makes the information engaging.
  • Make sure readers can skim the page for the relevant information. Certain formats can help facilitate this, such as headings or subheadings.
  • Highlight certain sections like “lessons learned” or include a short summary or timeline. Visuals are helpful.
  • Find a case study template and stick to it.

Britney Hess
Junior Analyst

 

Resources

University of Notre Dame, how to write a business case study: http://www3.nd.edu/~sbyrnes1/pdf/Writing_Resources/Writing_Case_Study.pdf

Using case studies for knowledge transfer:
https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/L-and-D-Blog/2012/07/Using-Case-Studies-in-Learning-and-Development-Projects-a-Lessons-Learned-Approach.aspx?_ga=1.88559835.1336840469.1460658580

Photo by:
Best Finance. (2015). How to Choose a Currency for Your Offshore Bank Account. Retrived from: bestfinancenetwork.com/tag/banking-services






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What is HACCP? A Comprehensive Look at What HACCP Means and What it Takes

Posted on April 11 2016 | Author: Admin

We know HACCP has to do with food safety. But what is HACCP (pronounced ‘ha-ssup’) really? What does it mean and what does an organization need to do to have HACCP certification? HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). This should not be confused with HARPC, which will be discussed in a separate article on our website.

HACCP is definitely not new to the food industry. It was initially developed in 1959 by the Pillsbury Company, The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center (NSSC) and The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The original intent of HACCP was to guarantee the safety of food on space missions, to deal with concerns about crumbs and liquid droplets in zero gravity and ultimately to deal with concerns related to microbiological safety.

In simplest terms the goal of HACCP is to apply a common sense application of technical and scientific knowledge to a specific food production. Part of the HACCP process is to systematically prioritize and control hazards as well as to identify where and how these hazards might occur either in your ingredients, your finished product, your process or your distribution. When HACCP principles are in place, there are defined actions implemented to prevent, eliminate and reduce potential hazards. That’s not all. The next important part of HACCP is monitoring and verifying the applications and effectiveness of these actions to make sure the risks of hazards are decreased. The end result is the production of a food product that is much safer to consume.

Step 1: Put together your HACCP team
To prepare for an effective food safety HACCP program, the first step in the process is to choose your HACCP team. Ideally your HACCP team should represent all parts of your operation. Quality assurance and quality control personnel are an essential part of every HACCP team, but production, maintenance, purchasing and management employees should not be overlooked and have much to contribute to the success of implementing a HACCP program.

Step 2: Prepare a flow chart
After choosing your HACCP team, the next preparation step for the HACCP implementation process involves describing your products and identifying their intended use. This is not a difficult step and is simply acknowledging and documenting what you already know about your product and its destination after leaving your production facility. Creating a diagram of the flow of product from receiving to shipping is the next preparation step and is an excellent exercise in understanding how materials, finished product and people flow through your plant.

Step 3: Identify your hazards
The next step is to conduct a hazard analysis of your process and raw materials. Conducting hazard analyses of your process involves asking the question what are the possible biological, chemical and physical hazards that can occur in my process?

A biological hazard is one that can cause illness. It can involve contamination by bacteria, virus, parasite or any organism that can produce a toxin.

A typical chemical hazard is one that can cause injury or poisoning and includes even naturally occurring substances such as allergens. Other chemical hazards can even include intended ingredients but used in a manner as to exceed the intended amount. Antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides are examples. Chemical hazards also include ingredients that are accidentally added – such as cleaning chemicals, paint or pest control chemicals.

A typical physical hazard is any foreign object accidentally added that can cause injury. Examples of this are glass, metal grindings, screws, bolts, stones, pebbles and hard plastics.

Step 4: Determine the CCPs and limits
The next important principle in the development of your HACCP program is determining the critical control points (CCPs) and establishing critical limits. A CCP is any step (or activity) which adds an element of control to the production environment and can be applied to your process. The CCP is essential to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level. An example of a biological CCP to reduce a possible biological hazard involves a heating step in your process for a specific time and temperature. An example of a physical CCP to reduce a possible physical hazard involves having your product go through a metal detector. Once the CCPs are established the limits for each point need to be established. For example, for the elimination of a potential biological hazard we would cook a food product at a designated minimum temperature for a designated minimum amount of time.

Step 5: Don’t forget the prerequisite program!
For a complete HACCP program to be in place a prerequisite program is also required. A prerequisite program reduces the likelihood of certain hazards from occurring. Often prerequisite programs are facility wide and if not followed, bring significant food safety concerns. Many recalls are not related to CCPs but rather to failures in prerequisite programs. The WHO definition of Prerequisite Programs is practices needed prior to and during implementation of HACCP which are essential for food safety. They can be divided into the following groups: premises, personnel, transportation, sanitation, equipment, and recalls. Procedures need to be written and implemented and need to be made available to everyone who has a role in monitoring your process, implementing corrective actions, and verifying that the steps implemented are effective.   Finally, procedures need to be in place for record keeping and documentation.

In essence HACCP is a system what when properly designed, implemented and maintained, results in the production of safer food, improved workplace safety, increased market access, protection against liability and sets the company on a pursuit for continuous improvement.

Article provided by: dicentra.com

About dicentra
dicentra provides sought-after food safety guidance, compliance consulting services and scientific guidance for food and health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. Since 2002, dicentra has been helping clients resolve complex scientific and safety issues, develop safe and effective market-leading products and facilitate timely regulatory approvals. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com






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Market Research and Your Company

Posted on March 23 2016 | Author: Alexander Lazier

The advent of advertising was here. The date is November 2nd, 1920 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the first radio advertising licence had just been purchased. While undeniably monumental, early advertising lacked the direction and precision which market research would eventually facilitate over the decades to come. Early marketing managers would simply create and advertise with the optimism that readers would be influenced through the information provided. However, it was not until Harvard psychologist Daniel Starch pioneered the first market research firm in the mid-1920s that quantifiable data was utilized in supporting serious company strategies.

Nearing a century later, market research has evolved into a pillar of corporate strategy. With increasingly precise technologies and algorithms with abilities to collect information on the most specific of demographics; effective businesses have rooted themselves in high-level market research.   

Though broad in terminology, market research is defined as “The action or activity of gathering information about consumers' needs and preferences.” The current mediums of which this information is identified and interpreted include:

Market information

  • Being cognisant of applicable commodity prices on the market
  • Recognition of supply and demand situations
  • Understanding social, technical, and legal aspects of market

Market segmentation

  • The division of the market or population into subgroups with similar motivations
  • Division allows for deeper analysis of geographic differences, personality differences, gender differences, demographic differences, technographic differences, use of product differences, and psychographic differences

Market trends

  • Identification of patterns in the market
  • Ability to forecast events which have bearing on profit, production, and market value

SWOT analysis

  • Written analysis of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) to a business

Marketing Effectiveness

The measure of marketing ROI through the means of:

  • Customer analysis
  • Choice modelling
  • Competitor analysis
  • Risk analysis
  • Product research
  • Advertising the research
  • Marketing mix modeling
  • Simulated Test Marketing

How can your company benefit from Market Research?

As mentioned by the Canadian Government, the goal of conducting market research is to equip businesses with the information needed to make informed strategic decisions on innovation, growth, and the 4 P's:

  • Product — Improve product or service based on findings reflecting customer wants and needs. Focus on features such as function, appearance and customer service.
  • Price — Set a price based on popular profit margins, competitors' prices, financing options or the price a customer is willing to pay.
  • Placement — Decide where to set up and how to distribute a product. Compare the characteristics of different locations and the value of points of sale (retail, wholesale, online).
  • Promotion — Figure out how to best reach particular market segments (teens, families, students, professionals, etc.) in areas of advertising, publicity, social media, and branding.

In summation, by conducting research on a regular basis, businesses keep up with the market dynamics by pre-emptively adjusting to new regulations and technological breakthroughs. While intuition through experience can prove helpful at times, it is research and facts that paint the more accurate picture of your company’s market.


Sources
Diaz Ruiz, C. A. (2013). Assembling Market Representations. Marketing Theory 13 (3): 245–261.
Drucker, P. F. (1974).
 Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices. Australia: Harper & Row. p. 864.
Government of Canada. (2015). Market research and statistics. Canada Business. Retrieved: March 16, 2016
Pauline M., Mark T., Barbara S., Michael S. (2009) The SAGE Handbook of Marketing Theory. SAGE Publications. p. 61-82.

Photo Sourced
Best Finance. (2015). How to Choose a Currency for Your Offshore Bank Account. Retrived from: bestfinancenetwork.com/tag/banking-services

 

Alexander Lazier
Market Intelligence Specialist
Bioenterprise Corporation






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Thinking of expanding to new markets? Consider this first!

Posted on March 04 2016 | Author: Admin

Thinking of expanding to new markets? Here’s what to consider before taking the leap

Expanding into a foreign market can offer many benefits for private business, including increased sales, higher profits, competitive advantage and a reduced dependency on domestic markets, to name a few. However, it can also present new challenges and risks that require careful consideration. Here are some ideas to help you navigate through the process:

Set the right strategy and priorities
Planning for expansion is a strategic exercise that involves identifying the market that meets your private company’s needs from among the many attractive options. Your strategy should consider the markets, your products or services and your overall goals for international trade. This may seem daunting, but without a full analysis of each potential market you risk choosing a market that may not be the best one for your business.

Develop the skills to evaluate, plan and execute entry into a new market
Companies expanding overseas, especially for the first time, need to acquire some new skills and expertise. It’s important to understand the effort of conducting business in a given foreign market and investigate the regulatory environment, the culture and the ability to operate seamlessly. Also, determine whether there’s a clear and growing demand for the type of products or services you offer, a base of potential clients who have the interest and money to buy and what the competitive landscape looks like.

Understand cultural, product and regulatory differences
Local culture and customs can have a significant impact on expansion. It can affect marketing your product, human resources and your methods of conducting business. It’s a good idea to get advice from someone with expertise in the market’s cultural norms and nuances. Being respectful of cultural differences can help you avoid making costly faux pas.

Get the right advice
Even where good data and information are widely available, look for people on the ground to advise you. Nothing beats real life experience when it comes to export know-how. Try to network with people who have lived in, conducted business in or have some type of connection to your target market. The information they can provide is invaluable.

Build a strong management team
Building a team of people you trust, and who share your ideas about running your private business, is an essential step in expansion. Your management on the ground needs good local knowledge and experience that can drive expansion and ensure linkages with your home market. Develop a strategy for recruitment and keep in mind that management skills needed to get a new operation off the ground may not be the same ones needed once your business is well established and growing.

Create a governance structure
Attempting to micro-manage a local operation from afar is unlikely to be successful, but you will need to retain oversight. Impose a clear decision-making process that empowers local managers to run day-to-day operations effectively while working toward the business’s strategic vision.

Be clear about your objectives and monitor progress
State your goals at the outset, along with measurable performance indicators that can be tracked by both local managers and your head office. Staying on top of progress to plan will help minimize risks and enhance your success in the market.

Your rationale for a move into a new market may be one of opportunity — overseas markets can offer exciting new prospects, high growth potential or the chance to better serve existing clients. Alternatively, it may be one of risk. You owe it to your business to do the research necessary to decide if it’s the right strategy to pursue.

By Bill Hamilton and Brock McMillan at www.financialpost.com

Click here to view the original article.






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Co-operative Education Programs: How Students and Employers Benefit

Posted on February 10 2016 | Author: Kelly Laidlaw

Co-operative (co-op) education allows students to alternate periods of academic study with periods of work experience from across several fields in both the private and public sectors. Over half of Canadian undergraduate university students participate in co-op education and internships, spanning numerous majors, and those numbers are on the rise.

Co-op education is an excellent opportunity to provide “hands on” industry experience to students before they enter the workforce on a full-time basis. Additional benefits of co-op education to students include:
 

  • Co-op students are able to test theoretical concepts that they learned in the classroom in a real-life work place setting. This provides students with a more well-rounded and realistic view of industry than academics alone can provide.
  • Co-op placements help students evaluate the suitability of their career choice before they commit to a full-time position.
  • Co-op students are able to build a network of industry contacts, learn to communicate professionally, and develop relationships with mentors.
  • Career-related experience will help to build students’ résumés, providing them with a clear competitive advantage when applying for jobs.
  • Co-op students are provided with the opportunity to learn new skills and build relationships with employers that could lead to a position post graduation.
  • Co-op education provides students with financial resources to help pay for their education, while earning credits toward their degree.
  • Co-op students are able to test skills learned in their studies, and to expand their knowledge through related work experience.

The benefits of co-op education also extends to employers, including, but not limited to:

  • Employers benefit from staying on top of new knowledge, trends and perspectives coming out of the universities.
  • Co-op students provide an infusion of bright, passionate, and enthusiastic people to the workplace. Students can bring innovative thinking to workplaces, improving business operations.
  • Co-op programs provide employers with the opportunity to meet short term staffing needs due to sick or parental leaves, vacation schedules, or transfers.
  • Existing employees get the opportunity to develop their management skills and gain the satisfaction of mentoring co-op students.
  • Co-op students can strengthen relations between academic institutions and industry.
  • Employers have year-round access to co-op employment opportunities, which can significantly reduce labour costs.
  • Co-op placements allow employers to vet and gain access to well-qualified employees upon graduation.

There are options available to help employers add a co-op student to their team. One example is the Co-operative Education Tax Credit, which is a refundable tax credit. It is available to employers who hire students enrolled in a co-operative education program at an Ontario university or college. This allows corporations to claim 25 per cent of eligible expenditures (30 per cent for small businesses), with a maximum credit of $3,000 for each work placement. For more information visit: http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/credit/cetc/.

Additional funding opportunities for Canadian co-op education programs are listed here:
https://uwaterloo.ca/hire/recruit-waterloo/financial-support#Topfundingopportunities

Bioenterprise has seen the value in participating in co-operative education programs for several years now.  In fact, we are a proud recipient of the University of Guelph’s “Co-op Employer of the Year” award. We hope to continue to support the learning goals of students who are looking for opportunities to gain experience in the agri-tech industry. In the long term, we see the importance of contributing to the increasingly productive and innovative future workforce that Canada needs to compete globally, as driven by the next generation. 

Sources:

Kelly Laidlaw
Program Manager, Corporate Relations

 






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Farmer-Entrepreneurs Adding Value to the Agri-Food and Products Sector

Posted on January 27 2016 | Author: Carolyn Dowling

Primary agriculture in Canada plays a significant role in the economy as one of the most prominent and complex industries. As a result of fluctuating variables in the agriculture sector, including changing weather patterns, transportation, and global economic shifts, Canadian farmers are increasingly seeking alternative routes to market in order to mitigate risk and extend their market season. These farmers transitioning into agri-food and agri-product processors and manufacturers are a unique type of entrepreneur who demand specialized resources and support to enter the space, gain traction, and deliver on the bottom line.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) provides critical resources to start navigating the value-added sector:

If value-added food processing business is the next venture, OMAFRA’s online 2015 Guide to Food and Beverage Manufacturing provides commercialization considerations that every entrepreneur needs to make at the product development stage. The considerations covered in the Guide include quality assurance, marketing, pricing and distribution, as well as zoning and tax considerations.

The On-Farm Processing Recipe Based Costing Tool is another user-friendly online resource from OMAFRA which can help determine if value-added food processing is the right opportunity for you.  It analyzes the effects of ingredient, packaging and other costs on the product margin when scaling up to commercial format.

The Food Processing Human Resource Council (FPHRC) has launched the Innovations Road Map for Food and Beverage Processors , which is a start-to-finish online interactive platform for entrepreneurs moving from conceptualization to commercialization.

From a farmer-forward perspective, Farm Management Canada (FMC) has started bridging the gaps in the value chain by introducing Canadian farmers to sustainable business management strategies, including diversifying their market opportunities to increase their bottom line. FMC offers comprehensive online resources targeting the range of farmers from those individuals exploring their options to progressive farmer-entrepreneurs looking to make their next move. The following resources also include real-time case studies of Canadian farmers who travelled the road to commercialization before them:

The Agri-food Management Institute (AMI) provides complementary resources to both OMAFRA and FMC through two initiatives with Georgian College:

  1. Transition Smart- Farmers to Processors: This program is being rolled out in February 2016, aiming to connect farmers with the appropriate tools to enter agri-food processing, including operational planning, distribution and sales from a business management perspective.
  2. Food Entrepreneurs: Building Ontario Innovation One Product at a Time: This is a new food entrepreneur-focussed conference launching in March 2016, which will showcase local farmer-entrepreneurs, expert speakers and resources for new entrants to the space.

Although these resources are accessible to all Canadians, there are some additional programs targeting farmer-entrepreneurs in the Maritimes. These resources include:

  • The Future Farmer Program through PEI’s Growing Forward 2
  • THINKFarm through Nova Scotia’s Growing Forward 2
  • Innovation PEI provides programs that promote productivity, innovation, development, and commercialization in the value-added food and product space
  • Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) supports the processing space more so than the primary production space through their funding opportunities that are focussed on business development and innovation. 

Bioenterprise has worked with a number of farmer-entrepreneurs who have turned creative farm equipment solutions or niche food products into a successful value-added business ventures. These individuals accessed available resources to realize their dreams, including connections to local incubators and hubs, professionals in product and market development, and public and private funding opportunities.

The aforementioned resources, programs and tools act as a springboard for Canadian farmers to explore or upgrade their natural entrepreneurial business acumen. Farmers are enabled to hone in their focus on the innovation, competitiveness and market development necessary to advance and capitalize on the emerging market opportunities in the agri-business space.  

Carolyn Dowling
Senior Analyst






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“Rome wasn’t built in a Day”…

Posted on January 14 2016 | Author: Laura Millson

The ancient Roman Empire is renowned for its architectural and visual splendor.   It took the patience and commitment of many and attests to the fact that we simply cannot hope to achieve anything great within a short period of time.

We experience daily how our lives and work can be simplified if we were able to consolidate information in one place.  It is an intimidating task to research and model a database.   Patience, persistence and planning are key elements before you even get to the bricks and mortar.  This is the foundation of database development.

The challenge...

Perhaps the most important rule and phase to designing a database is the initial design and brainstorming phase.  A good database starts with a good plan.  Determine the purpose, the scope and the functionality of what you want the database to store, what you need out of it and how it will help you work.  This gives a developer all of the information upfront to begin a design.  Spending time on the planning process ensures you have a clear idea of the type of database your organization needs, can afford and support.  Only with all of the necessary information available can a great database “empire” design be created with proper linkages and best practices intact.

The goal…

The goal of any database is to be efficient and scalable.  Data is always edited, added and deleted so it is important to keep it organized in order to maintain this constant changing set of data.  Identify your organizations overall objectives, what data needs to be collected, what reports are required, user needs and overall benefits of the database and what it will offer.

The design…

The core of the database design can be complex and the process of planning can vary greatly.  Start with a general and complete view or “wish list” Be realistic about the planning process and collect the information about the needs of those who will be using the database.  It can often be more difficult to add in items later rather than get it right the first time. Decide what you want, prepare a timetable and scope of the project.  It can be streamlined as you progress.  An excellent feature worth investigating is the option of an administrative module to manage data, permissions, and security.

Creating a plan will serve as a guide when implementing the database and as a functional specification for the database after it is implemented.

Think outside the database.

  • Consider search features, uploads, messaging links to web browser and email functionality.
  • Decide what fields and tables your database will contain and the content and layout requirement of those tables  - be specific.
  • Define how data in one table is related to data in another table.
  • Do tables need to be linked together; or does data within each table require sorting.

Assess...

  • Who will lead the project?
  • Who will use the database?
  • Who will maintain the database and what experience do they have, in hardware and software requirements?
  • Are there any limits created by your current setup such as the age of computers or whether they are PC or MAC and their varying operating systems?
  • Do you have a network, require remote access; is there a budget for upgrades?
  • What staff will be trained in the use of the system?
  • How will it be delivered?
  • What support do you require?  (i.e. upgrades, potential new features, troubleshooting)

Plan your time…

No matter who is leading the project, the amount of time taken for planning is often under estimated.  Before the technical details, think through the commitment and ensure you have the budget and support needed.

  • Staff time to develop the database plan.
  • The cost of buying or building the database.
  • Staff time to test/data entry.
  • Training of staff to use the database.
  • Time to manage, maintain and use the database.

The budget…

  • Your estimate of time and budget will become more and more accurate as the planning process continues
  • Identify the problems that need to be solved and the benefits it will bring
  • Staff time, streamlining productivity and efficiency
  • Improved quality of service or delivery of information
  • The value of these potential benefits will help set up an initial budget which can be modified as you talk to suppliers and contractors.

The Key to Success…

Ensure you have the clear support and involvement of senior management.  Developing a new database cannot be seen as a technical issue – it is likely to affect the entire organization and it needs senior level support.  Which is vital once the development process becomes more technically driven.

Now that the foundation blocks have been assembled you can begin the intricate architectural build of your database project.

Laura Milson
Special Projects Coordinator






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Sustainability and the Start-Up: The Value of Implementing Sustainable Measures into Your Business Plan

Posted on December 09 2015 | Author: Emily Hartwig

This month, France will chair and host the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The main objective of the Convention is to create a new international agreement on climate change – a major focus of which will be sustainability and creating a sustainable future for our global economy. You might be wondering, “What does sustainability have to do with my business?” and “is incorporating sustainability really worth it during this development stage of my company?”

Traditionally in business, a company’s bottom line includes profits, return on investment and shareholder value. In today’s market exists John Elkington’s business theory: the Triple Bottom Line. This hybrid of traditional and modern ideals is an accounting framework that incorporates three dimensions of performance into a company’s business plan: environmental, social and financial. Sustainability planning allows companies to incorporate various tactics to elevate their influence and impact on these three dimensions of performance, and ultimately, accelerate their business. 

Ellen Kappes, an MBA focused on sustainability in business, details the benefits of sustainability planning for start-ups and small businesses:

“Sustainability concepts naturally align with the core values of most entrepreneurs and therefore can easily be embedded in a start up business”. Sustainable measures can include energy reduction planning by means of energy efficient devices, and waste diversion by means of recycling and composting programs. Both of these initiatives create cost savings, a core value among entrepreneurs and start-ups.

“Engagement at the early stages of a business will build a culture and competitive position that will be harder to create later on”. Enacting a sustainability plan in your early stages of development will reduce costs incurred as a result of potential future government mandates for these types of programs such as water use reductions and pollution prevention measures.

“Formalizing sustainability goals early on will ensure that you make good on your intentions and will force you to build organizational capacity”. Not only will incorporating sustainability in your business produce financial savings, but they will enhance your public image as well. Sustainable planning will improve your company profile and reduce the risk of negative public opinion. A company that exhibits social responsibility will garner customer loyalty and retention, which are highly valuable traits to financial inventors when you wish to expand your company.

“Time spent identifying sustainable solutions fosters creativity and innovation”. Sustainable planning initiatives will foster creative thinking, and creative thinking will result in an overall revolutionary business!

Emily Hartwig
Regulatory & Sustainability Assistant

Photo Credit: GreenBiz






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Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, or Corporation?

Posted on November 25 2015 | Author: Admin

Organizing a new business can be challenging as entrepreneurs are faced with many options on how to start their business. Choosing whether to establish  a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation is a common challenge for start-ups. The decision can have a significant impact on the business management of risks and tax exposure.

It’s important to first understand the different types of business structures. This will help entrepreneurs select the most appropriate structure for their business needs.

Sole Proprietorship
A sole proprietorship represents the situation in which an individual holds all the legal rights and responsibilities of their business activities. As such, the owner personally assumes the risks of the business activities including legal action and tax liability. The owner is responsible to declare business net income or losses as part of their personal tax reporting. For a start-up business, personal income tax rates can be higher than small corporation tax rates but start-up business losses can be offset against the owner’s other income. And legally, since there is no distinction made between the business and the owner, the owner’s personal assets are at risk if the business is not successful.

Partnership
A partnership is similar to a sole proprietorship for legal and tax purposes, except that the business’ net income/losses, liabilities, and management decisions are shared between two or more individuals. Its similarity to a sole proprietorship model makes it relatively easy and inexpensive for business to start-up and operate.  Because liabilities and taxes are shared between the partners, it is considered less risky for entrepreneurs. But this also means that the partners share in management decisions, and can therefore create difficulties if the partners do not have the same vision.

Corporation
A corporation is recognized by law as a single entity, or in other words, recognized legally as a person.  This takes much of the risk away from the owner's personal liability, as the company itself is now responsible for its debts and taxes.  While incorporating can reduce personal risks and taxes for the owner, it is more expensive to set-up and administer.  

There are different types of corporations that can either be private or public type corporations.  Private corporations are most commonly used among start-ups and owned by few shareholders, including the founders.  Public corporations sell shares of the company to the public through listings in stock exchanges. Listing through a public stock exchange makes it easier to access the financial markets by selling “shares” in the company. However, filing and reporting requirements for a public corporation can be considerable and expensive, whereas privately held corporations do not have the same disclosure requirements.

When starting a business, knowing the advantages/disadvantages of the different types of organizations (sole proprietorship, partnerships and corporations) can make choosing the right one an easier task. The entrepreneur's own situation and initial business prospects will be important criteria to the type of structure selected. The legal structure of a business is an important decision and should be based on the entrepreneur's budget, revenue, profits, expenses, size, and industry.

The most common business structure for a start-up is a sole proprietorship, which makes up 73% of all new small businesses (the rest being partnerships and corporations). Many start-ups are on a tight budget and may not be able to afford the costs and management requirements of a partnership or corporation.

Philippe Piche
Program Assistant

References: http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/page/2853/
Photo Credit: pixabay.com 






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Are You Fit to Fly in the Field?

Posted on November 19 2015 | Author: Doug Knox

The proliferation of UAVs or Drones for both recreational and business usage is presenting some potentially difficult regulatory conditions to navigate. AAFC published a short note in the Agri-info Newsletter in May 2015.

You may need permission to fly.

You are responsible for flying your aircraft safely and legally. If you are using a UAV to support your agricultural operations, you may need to apply for a Transport Canada Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC). The process allows experts to review your specific situation and determine if extra precautions are needed.

If your unmanned aircraft weighs less than 25 kg, you may qualify for an exemption that would allow you to fly without a SFOC.

Agriculture Agri-Food Canada, Agri-info Newsletter, May 2015

I have supplemented the information with a slightly broader survey of the issues and risks of ignoring the regulatory scene.

IT World Canada addresses the regulations and provided some resources for UAV operations.

Transport Canada has published the current status and requirements for UAV flying.

Transport Canada Infographic for a quick assessment of how the regulations apply.

The Canadian Bar Association comments on the need for legal understanding of the UAV usage.

Legal firm, Fasken Martineau provides an overview of the regulations and their application.

Doug Knox
Vice-President, Technology

Photo Credit: Flickr

 






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Handling Consumer Mistrust

Posted on November 12 2015 | Author: Mary Dimou

Consumers are demanding transparency. The rise of the tech revolution has propagated a deluge of new information and new avenues to reach consumers. With advances in technology allowing information (of varying quality) to be readily available at a user’s fingertips, it’s no wonder that the nouveau consumer feels confident enough to make “informed” judgements on new innovation.

As an entrepreneur, your invention could be a revolutionary solution to assist in global issues such as the sustainability of our species or our environment. Inopportunely, this intended solution has the probability of intersecting with the plethora of great controversies in the life science sector, including genetic engineering (GE), genetic modified organisms (GMOs), vaccinations, animal welfare issues, antibiotics and many more.

For a select few businesses, providing transparency and reaching consumers will be an uphill battle. Although their numbers are few, the reality is some activists will seek to discredit your efforts irrespective of facts and evidence. Accepting early on that some of these individuals cannot be reached is essential. It will enable you to reallocate your efforts to the majority of consumers, the skeptics. Skeptics will seek your answers and should be viewed as an exceptional communications opportunity for your business. Immersion into the controversy will impact your business model. In this era, successful tech businesses must include appropriate education and communication efforts in their business planning.

The nature of this post is not to focus on any of the aforementioned controversial topics, but rather provide recommendations for educating and guiding your consumers through the labyrinth of available information.
 

 1.       Evaluating both viewpoints of the controversy carefully. Informing considering both polarized viewpoints increases your credibility to your audience. 
         
 2.       Collecting scientifically substantiated evidence. One of the greatest challenges that we are facing as an industry is the credibility of the knowledge being obtained. Recommend that your customers review various peer-reviewed articles, primary literature, as well as national government resources (.gov). Your role as an educator should also include assistance with the curation and dissemination of this information and translation of this knowledge to the general public.
         
 3.       Communicating in a palatable way. Consumers require easily digestible information. This knowledge transfer can often require creativity on your part. You may try providing examples that are relatable to their day-to-day life, in an easily understandable format such as an infographic or cartoon. For example, the recent statement regarding glyphosate as a carcinogen was based on the risk and hazard scale by WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. Although glyphosate carries a carcinogenic risk, the associated hazard of glyphosate causing cancer is minimal (1). In fact, the amount of glyphosate required to produce these carcinogenic effects would be enormous! A similar day-to-day example could use driving. Driving is an inherent risk; however, driving in a snowstorm is an increased hazard.


Managing consumer mistrust is an essential task that has been under prioritized by tech businesses, especially in the Ag sector. Although potentially daunting and difficult, engaging and educating consumers has now become an integral function of any successful technology business. So get an early start!

 

Mary Dimou, M.Sc.
Sr. Analyst, Regulatory Affairs & Sustainability

Reference:
(1) http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/MonographVolume112.pdf  
Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos






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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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Why your website needs to have a responsive design

Posted on October 01 2015 | Author: Jennifer Kalanda

In any market today, having and maintaining an online presence is practically mandatory.  There is also no shortage of elements to consider, but your company’s website will likely be the first thing your potential customers will see.  So, how will they see it?

Are you mobile-friendly?

Did you know Google now uses mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal? 

According to comScore, within Canada, USA and UK, 50% or more digital media time is spent on a mobile device.  As so many users are only accessing content through their smartphone or tablet, it is important to have a mobile-first mindset but to also remember that desktop is still very relevant.

Be more than mobile-friendly.

Simply having a mobile version of your company’s website may not make your company more accessible or generate more business.  Mobile sites are essentially created as separate websites, which are often stripped down, or different from the content offered on the desktop version.  This can result in high bounce rates.  Google may even then interpret high bounce rates as a sign that a website isn’t offering relevant content to users and could lead to a drop in rankings.

Responsive website design.

Responsive web design is a method of design using intelligent coding which helps a website determine what kind of device it is being viewed on and then alter itself to fit to the screen size without any distortion. 

Responsive design ensures the best viewing experience across a wide range of devices, from mobile phones to tablet devices to desktop computers.  This design method increases the ease of reading and navigation with minimum scrolling and resizing.   This also ensures consistency for the user when viewing a website from one device to another.  Sites designed exclusively for mobile devices don’t offer the advanced navigational techniques found in traditional desktop websites.  

Google likes it.

As a website owner, it should be your goal to keep both your customers and Google happy.   A responsive web design means your website only has one URL which enables Google to easily index a website’s content within your domain.  This means that it can improve a site’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results.  

Time and money are precious.

A responsive website ensures the best use of your time, since it does not have to be spent on content creation for two versions of a website.   Managing multiple versions of a site also increases development, support and maintenance overheads. 

Generate new business.

If your customer encounters a problem with your site on their preferred device, it is likely you could lose that potential business.  Enhancing a users journey and experience will increase conversion rates and ultimately improve sales.

According to Google’s Think Insights on Mobile, 51% of smartphone users have purchased from a company/brand other than the one they intended to because the information provided was useful.  And when a brand’s mobile site or app makes it easy for a smartphone user to find answers, 69% of those users are more likely to actually buy from them.

Success with social media.

If your site is responsive you can build social shares for just one URL and when the site does get shared, wherever the link is viewed – whether on a mobile, tablet or on desktop – all of the content will be clear and easy to navigate.  Social shares impact SEO, having multiple versions of the same page dilutes the impact of any shares.

 

Jennifer Kalanda
Marketing Manager






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Is your Business Innovative?

Posted on September 16 2015 | Author: Britney Hess


 

Have you considered an innovative business model?

What is innovation?

First, let’s define creativity. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, creativity is the ability to think of new ideas. Innovation, on the other hand, is putting that creative idea into action. Innovation may be disruptive, meaning it changes an entire market. Or, innovation can sustain an existing market by improving on the current offerings. 

Where does innovation come from in a business?

There are many potential sources of innovation. The innovation may be driven by the manufacturer of a product. In this case, there may be a more efficient process for creating the same product, or a new ability to manufacture a disruptive product. Innovation can also be driven by the end-user. In this case, the business may receive feedback from the end-user based on the value delivered to the customer.

What is a business model approach to innovation?

An innovative business model should take into account both the manufacturer and the end-user, as well as all of the other components in a typical business model. There are several business model templates available to help visualize how the components will affect one another. The components of a typical business model template include: value proposition, business activities, resources, channels, relationships with customers and partners, revenue streams, and cost structure (check out The Business Model Canvas by Alex Osterwalder for a commonly used business model). It’s important to think about how all of the parts fit together, and how a change in one area may affect other areas.

Create your own innovative business model

It can be helpful to understand the typical business model in your industry or sector. Do research on both smaller competitors and larger corporations. You may want to look at industries that are using, or have used, a similar business model in the past. This can give you a jumping-off point for some creative ideas. Once you have come up with your innovative model it can be beneficial to carry out some small-scale tests to ensure the creative idea is truly an actionable innovation. It’s also helpful to talk with industry experts to ensure you have a plan that makes sense in action!

Bioenterprise works with innovative businesses relating to agri-technology. We routinely look into the business models common to the specific sectors within agriculture to help our clients best understand what is already out there, and how they can modify it.

 

Britney Hess
Junior Analyst
 

Business Model Canvas:
http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com/canvas/bmc

Innovative Business Models:
http://nbs.net/knowledge/nbs-sa-research-on-innovative-business-models/2/

Photo: https://pixabay.com

 






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The Importance of a Social Media Policy in your Business

Posted on August 27 2015 | Author: Admin

Earlier this summer I was tasked with creating a social media policy. While doing so, I learned a lot about how important it is to have one in your business.

While browsing news headlines, I found a ton of stories related to social media and the workplace. A few years back, Virgin Atlantic fired 13 employees for posting disloyal content on Facebook that criticized Virgin’s safety standards and offended it’s passengers.  Similarly, an employee was fired from the Broofield Zoo very recently because of a racist post on Facebook taken place at work and in her uniform.

Policies provide clear guidelines and support
Policies are the building blocks to any corporation. They provide structure and guidance to each and every employee.  

Social media is drastically changing the way individuals and organizations communicate. It’s important that employees who use social media, use it in a way that enhances the company’s prospects, or at least doesn’t diminish them.  A misinterpreted status update can easily generate complaints or damage the company’s reputation.

A social media guide clarifies standards of behaviour in which employees can use social media professionally and effectively.

Policies help manage risks
It is important to keep confidential company information protected. Therefore it is critical that clear guidelines are made about sharing private information online in order to mitigate risks involved with online activity.

Ensure that your social media policy includes that all confidential company information is never communicated or made publically or privately viewable on social media sites. Regardless of privacy settings, online information is accessible and can easily be placed in the wrong hands.

Policies protect company reputation
Users should always be careful discussing things they wouldn’t want their boss to see. Posting information that is disloyal could severely damage your company’s reputation (like those 13 employees at Virgin Atlantic). Setting clear guidelines against this is crucial in maintaining a good company reputation.

If there are no guidelines set in place against this, any posts by employees that harm the company’s reputation will be without consequence. In order to prevent the spread of disloyal information, guidelines must be set in place.

Policies assist with networking and awareness
Social media policies do not always have to be a long list of boring restriction. There is a lot of potential in using social media to your advantage.  

Social media is very important for building relationships with current and potential clients. It is an effective way to distribute marketing and communications, build an online brand and business profile, as well as stay connected with valued networks. It is also a great tool for employees to make useful connections, share ideas, and have discussions, whether it is work related or personal.

Illustrate ways in your social media policy for employees to use social media to their advantage whether it be for their personal social media use, or for company use.

Policies increase productivity
In the long run, policies actually increase productivity as issues are mitigated and therefore resulting in saved time.

Establishing a social media policy reduces lost time spent dealing with unauthorized usage or inappropriate behaviour online. Instead of dealing with the consequences of conflicts related to social media use, employees will be educated on your organization’s expectations for online professionalism and potential issues will be prevented.

And remember, no policy is alike
It is important to keep in mind that all policies need to be structured to perfectly fit your company.

Virgin Atlantic’s social media policy is different than Bioenterprise’s; Apple’s social media policy is different than McDonald’s. Your policy needs reflect your company’s business profile and online strategies in order to fulfill all of your company needs

Bethany Witvoet
Marketing and Events Assistant

Photo: Pixabay, Dilbert.com
References: http://mediabuzz.com.sg/asian-emarketing?catid=0&id=787