And the award goes to…Philip Vanderpol, president and CEO of Vitalus Nutrition! The visionary entrepreneur was honoured with IAF’s 2018 Award of Excellence for Innovation at the Project Showcase in Abbotsford on April 12th.

After seven years of research and a series of IAF projects funded through the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program, Vanderpol and his team at Vitalus were able to develop the technology to produce a new value-added ingredient from milk permeate that can potentially transform the Canadian dairy industry and enhance consumer health.

While milk permeate is normally a by-product of milk processing that has minimal value, Vanderpol was convinced there was untapped potential and began to pilot a process with the help of Innovation funding. Thus VITAGOS™ was born, a recognized prebiotic fiber created from dairy permeate that now offers food processors a way to enhance the health benefits of infant formulas and other foods, including functional foods, natural health products, sports nutrition products, nutritional bars, dairy products and beverages, fruit drinks, fruit preparations and animal feed.

The VITAGOS™ plant is now the first manufacturer in the Americas of a high-value fraction from dairy permeate, representing an unprecedented opportunity for the dairy and food processing sectors.

“The development and commercialization of this new ingredient will help increase dairy industry returns while enabling food processors to develop new products for digestive health,” explains Vanderpol.

With the launch of the new line, food processors not only have access to VITAGOS™ but to other value-added options such as MPC 85 – the result of another Vitalus-led Innovation project, this low lactose milk protein concentrate offers a protein level of 85 percent while allowing the development of reduced-lactose cheese, yogurt, soups and more.

“IAF has been proud to support the process and product development stages for VITAGOS™, and we are thrilled to celebrate Philip’s leadership in helping the Canadian dairy industry become internationally competitive,” declared IAF director Alistair Johnston as he presented the award.

In addition to Vanderpol, the award selection committee was pleased to recognize two Honorable Mentions – Dr. Victor Lo from the University of British Columbia, for his pioneering efforts to enhance the environmental stewardship of BC dairy farms through the development of a more sustainable manure and nutrient management process; and Silvio Lettrari, owner of Kaslo Sourdough, for introducing the world’s first sourdough pasta to help address the needs of a growing number of consumers with gluten sensitivities and other dietary concerns.

“Having provided the early support to these nominees through federal and provincial Innovation funding, we are especially gratified to witness the incredible achievements that have resulted from these investments,” said Alistair. “These projects represent long-term gains that extend beyond agriculture to impact consumer, environmental and economic health.”

The IAF Award of Excellence for Innovation in Agriculture and Agri-Food celebrates BC’s agriculture and agri-food leaders who have implemented specific projects or initiatives leading to economic, environmental or social benefits to British Columbia and the industry in general, or to a specific sector. For more information, visit our Awards page.

Project funding was provided by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.