Hoof Health Pilot Paves Way for Dairy Cattle Welfare

As any dairy farmer knows, lameness is the most economically significant herd health and animal welfare issue facing producers. What is often less obvious is that hoof lesions are the culprit behind over 95 percent of lameness cases.

According to Trevor Hargreaves, Director of Producer Relations and Communications with the BC Dairy Association (BCDA), the lack of industry awareness has long contributed to this persistent problem.

“Lameness is commonly underestimated on dairy farms,” he explains. “A recent study on Alberta dairy herds revealed that while farmers estimate an eight percent proportion of lameness, the actual rate was confirmed to be closer to 20 percent.”

After a similar assessment on 75 BC dairies revealed the majority were substantially affected by lameness, the BCDA decided to introduce the industry to the ‘Dutch 5-Step Method of Hoof Trimming,’ an internationally recognized technique that requires specialized training and on-going support.

For Trevor and other stakeholders, the pilot was critical to filling the gap of in-depth courses available in BC.

“Despite many years of practical experience, BC’s professional hoof trimmers do not have a certification program in place to ensure a high level of consistency in the way they trim hooves,” says Trevor, citing the wide variations in technical knowledge and expertise in hoof lesion identification, trimming techniques and competence levels even amongst professional trimmers.

Thanks to federal and provincial funding, the BCDA was able to offer a series of hoof trimming clinics led by the Western Canadian Certified Hoof Trimmers Association to almost 70 dairy producers and farm employees throughout BC.

In addition to learning to correctly identify infectious and non-infectious claw lesions and risk factors, participants like Bruce Froese received hands-on training to trim and balance a cadaver foot as well as instruction on trimming tools and restraint systems available to safely trim feet.

As a result, Bruce was able to obtain his Certification for Hoof Trimming Proficiency, recognized worldwide, and now offers a new level of assurance to his customers at Greenleaf Hoof Care in Chilliwack.

“Improving the health, recovery and longevity of the herd very quickly covers the relatively minor costs of training and equipment investment on farm,” promises Bruce.

Course reviews from other participants were similarly positive, affirming greater confidence with both the theoretical and technical knowledge required to detect, treat and prevent lameness.

As industry adoption of the Dutch method grows and cases of hoof lesions and lameness begin to decline, Trevor expects the benefits to herd health and profitability will help shift the entire industry closer to its long-term goals.

“This is the first step in moving BC hoof trimmers towards a standardized system and elevating the competency level of trimmers province-wide,” he asserts, noting that animal welfare is one of six management pillars of the Dairy Farmers of Canada’s new proAction Initiative.

Funding: $7,273 provided through the former federal-provincial Safety Net Fund. (A0838)

Special thanks to Tom Droppo, Dairy Industry Specialist with the BC Ministry of Agriculture for his tireless oversight and support of this project.

FreeYumm Family Celebrates Record Sales

FreeYumm Foods is enjoying a growing BC fan base, thanks to their recent local marketing initiative. After a successful series of outreach and promotional activities, including more than 80 in-store demonstrations and three consumer trade shows, the Vancouver-based family business witnessed a 50 percent sales spike during the first year of their campaign!

Created in a dedicated bakery and free from the top nine priority allergens, FreeYumm’s gluten-free, allergen- and vegan-friendly snack bars allow diet-sensitive consumers to purchase food with minimal planning, effort or stress.

After an initial local marketing project helped introduce FreeYumm in stores and create the first wave of brand awareness in BC, president Sarah Clarke again turned to buy local funding when it came time to accelerate sales and launch their new line of healthy cookies.

In addition to the ambitious circuit of events, Clarke credits the unique and professional marketing materials they developed with project funding, including in-store displays and shelf-talkers.

“Thanks to funding support we’ve been able to provide a consistent, strong brand image to the consumer, capturing their attention and clearly outlining the benefits of our local BC brand,” explains Clarke.

As a result of the project, she was able to secure a new listing with Thrifty Foods and continues to see growth with all existing retail outlets like Whole Foods Market and Save-On-Foods.

For Clarke, overtaking brands from out-of-province competitors and gaining more market share for BC businesses is almost as satisfying as the sales increase itself.

“We are seeing strong sales at all chains but beyond this FreeYumm has solidified itself as a legitimate brand in the industry, often outselling other leading brands,” she says, noting that she frequently hears from retailers reporting that FreeYumm is now their number one selling granola bar.

Good news not just for the FreeYumm family but for the many partners they rely on to provide locally sourced food, packaging and equipment.

Funding: $19,678 provided by the Government of British Columbia. (BL139, BL253)

A Natural Defense for Poultry Biosecurity

As the pressure to ease antibiotic use in animal agriculture rises within Canada, industry faces the considerable challenge of finding effective alternatives to protect animal health and food safety. Luckily for BC’s poultry industry, a new tool developed by Cedar Biotech promises to help treat and prevent a variety of diseases in both farms and processing facilities.

Derived from the Western red cedar, thuja plicata and possessing unique anti-microbial properties, Cedar Biotech diffuses Cedar Leaf Oil into vapour form to provide safe and environmentally-friendly building-wide treatment and decontamination.

With funding through the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program, Cedar Biotech initiated a series of field tests to demonstrate that Cedar Leaf Oil Vapour (CLOV) can offer commercial poultry producers and processors with a cost-effective biosecurity tool.

According to Kelly Crosby, president and founder of Cedar Biotech, the project trials were successful in demonstrating that their patented CLOV diffuser significantly reduced both airborne and surface bacteria and viruses, including Salmonella and E. colicontamination.

“We’ve now validated the potential of CLOV to reduce chicken mortality rates, improve grower returns, help producers become antibiotic-free and decrease the use of harmful chemicals,” says Crosby, adding that the cost to install and operate the system is offset by the premium paid for antibiotic-free chicken.

During a six-week trial, Nutrichick Feed Consulting witnessed the CLOV difference firsthand, with the diffuser applied to its antibiotic-free chicken barn. By the end of the trial, the Abbotsford broiler farm achieved lower mortality and higher average weight than previous trials without CLOV.

“Lowering the birds’ exposure to pathogens is an essential part of growing healthy flocks,” explains Traci Wautier, nutritionist with Nutrichick. “CLOV provides us with an effective alternative to chemical cleaners that has proven to lower mortality and improve performance.”

And when it came to the processing sector, the results were similarly promising.

Crosby selected a local facility with readings of campylobacter detected by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency four times over the four months prior to installing the CLOV system. Post-installation, no discernable levels were evident, and the diffuser continues to remain in operation.

“The vapour is able to get into areas which are difficult to clean in equipment as well as providing hourly control,” says Crosby. “This allows poultry processors to control bacteria and fungi which enhances both food safety and product shelf-life.”

The CLOV project has since become an area of considerable interest for the poultry industry, not only within Canada but for other countries anxious to control pathogens from farm to table. Cedar Biotech is currently working with Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department to explore the potential of CLOV in controlling H1N1 in its poultry sector.

Funding: $146,000 provided by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia through Growing Forward 2, a former federal-provincial-territorial initiative (INN319).

Meals on Wheels Campaign Drives Growth for Lower Mainland Farms

Launched in 2007 by COO and Chef Marcus VonAlbrecht, MAVA Foods maintains a simple but powerful mission—to make food that is good for people and the planet, utilizing all natural, seasonal ingredients from local producers like 63 Acres Farms, Delta Fisheries and the Blue Goose Cattle Company.

One way it fulfills this purpose is by preparing food for Meals on Wheels in the Lower Mainland, a program that provides homebound individuals with nutritious, delicious hot meals at their doorsteps.

While it has already offered a lifeline for hundreds of local residents, Marcus felt they could do more.

“It’s been proven that when you buy from a locally-owned business, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses,” he explains. “We knew that by boosting sales of MAVA Foods’ meals we could benefit ten different companies in the Greater Vancouver Area, including local farms.”

Determined to increase sales by 200 meals a week (or $3,200 every month), MAVA launched a local marketing initiative, targeting senior citizens with an advertorial campaign in local publications like the Vancouver Sun and Province.

“We also wanted to provide at least 200 candidates with printed material explaining that by choosing us, they are choosing local farms and producers which strengthens both their economy and their bodies,” added Marcus. “This way not only seniors would benefit but local companies would increase their sales, enabling them to create more jobs and keep the money within our communities.”

In less than a year they had surpassed their goal, achieving a monthly sales average of $4,600, which has led to three new jobs at the MAVA facility, more purchase orders from BC producers and more investment opportunities for both themselves and their partners.

“Our suppliers frequently visit us at MAVA Foods headquarters to discuss production matters and improvements, and many of them have reported increased hiring due to growing sales volumes,” says Marcus.

With new suppliers like Hazelmere Organic Farm, Gelderman Farms and Bremner Foods joining their network, MAVA is now able to source 85 percent of their ingredients from BC producers and is hoping to eventually become 100 percent locally-sourced.

For Marcus, buying local is fundamental to MAVA’s business success and will continue to remain one of their bottom lines.

“The support of local marketing funding is essential to expanding the outcomes of this value chain and benefiting the entire BC community,” he believes. “It’s a win-win situation to all stakeholders involved.”

Funding: $4,410 provided by the Government of British Columbia. (BL286)

Richmond Enterprise Expands Gummy Empire

In its quest to make nutrition both fun and functional, Herbaland Naturals has evolved into Canada’s largest manufacturer of nutritional gummy products – but as any successful entrepreneur knows, staying on top requires continuous creativity, innovation and an ability to adapt to market trends.

With North American consumer demand of gummy supplements forecasted to continue, Herbaland co-founders Musharaf Syed and Aisha Yang needed a way to differentiate their product line against larger corporate competitors in the crowded nutraceutical industry.

“The US market in particular is highly competitive and demanding of innovations in the gummy product sector, including flexible and green packaging options,” explains Aisha. “We received numerous requests from large US companies for these capabilities and were convinced this was the way to expand.”

Luckily for the family business, the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program was there to help meet that demand. Cost-shared project funding allowed them to purchase and calibrate two pieces of equipment that would secure them a coveted advantage.

With their new dual texture gummy production machine, they can now combine two gummy formulas into a single piece, expand their product range, and use ingredients that are sensitive to air, light, crystallization or other factors without a protective coating.

The new equipment also enables them to design different active ingredients and colors for inside and outside layers, allowing them to offer an enhanced variety of nutritional characteristics tailored to specific client requests.

For Aisha, one of the many benefits the new technology affords is an enhanced relationship with their local network.

“Increasing our volume has increased our purchasing power, allowing us to be more discriminating of suppliers and able to more effectively liaise with local agri-suppliers,” she says, noting that they’re currently working with more than ten local producers as a result of the project.

North of 49 Naturals, for instance, supplies Herbaland with organic cranberry and blueberry powder sourced from farms in Richmond, Abbotsford, Delta and Langley. With the new machinery in place, North of 49 president, Andrew Small is excited to see a steady increase in purchasing from Herbaland.

“It’s great to see the support as we all know we need it to get our local products value-added into new markets!” he says.

And with the addition of a flexible green packaging machine, Herbaland has also emerged as a leader in corporate sustainability, offering one of the only form and seal solutions to fully comply with all commercially-available biodegradable film types.

With increased production, enhanced quality and reduced bottling costs, Herbaland expects these new features to generate at least $2.5 million in additional sales over the next five years and has already hired eight more full-time staff to meet the surge in demand.

“We’ve been receiving lots of positive feedback and orders from our local and overseas customers, including large American nutraceutical companies,” Aisha reports. “We have even embarked on several new projects with GNC Global, expected to generate over one million USD annually.”

And thanks to additional funding delivered by IAF for local and international marketing initiatives, Herbaland has also been able to increase domestic sales by over 400 percent and export revenues by 120 percent between 2016 and 2017.

While excited about the immediate increase in returns, Herbaland is focused on their longer-term vision, determined to become a global leader in the nutraceuticals industry.

“There are not many gummy manufacturing companies that create new and innovative products that will shape the future of the supplement industry—this will be Canada’s first dual texture two active-ingredient gummies that will raise the bar in natural health product markets everywhere,” Aisha predicts.

Funding: $146,223 provided by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia through Growing Forward 2, a former federal-provincial-territorial initiative for the innovation and export projects (INN285, EX001, EX124, EX253, EX364, EX475); $28,250 committed by the Government of British Columbia for the Buy Local project (BL412).

Local Start-up Changes Breakfast in BC

Anyone ever in line at a café or deli knows the familiar sight that fruit and yogurt cups present—what is less common (at least in BC) is a local, organic version of this popular staple.

Fortunately Chilliwack entrepreneur and passionate locavore Jillian Hull decided to fill the gap by undertaking two IAF projects that would help her develop, commercialize and market Jumpstarter, a unique BC product that now boasts mass appeal.

For Hull, the founder and CEO of JillyV’s Enterprises, the ability to access multiple funding sources for each phase of her venture was critical to achieving market success.

Agri-Innovation funding, for instance, enabled the development of the food technology needed to create the freeze/thaw formulation for Jumpstarter, a yogurt-based breakfast product layered with chia, oatmeal and low-sugar fruit compote that is now expanding the JillyV business.

“Being able to distribute nutrient-dense frozen products to vendors who then thaw and serve means we can distribute far beyond our current geographical capacity,” Hull explains.

So far Jumpstarter is the only dairy product in North America offering this feature, an innovation that has fostered broader opportunities not just for Hull but for her local partners and suppliers.

“We use local sources for our yogurt, including Avalon Dairy and Pacific Coast Fruit Products, as well as local distributors for all other products like oatmeal and chia,” she reports, adding they also use a local box manufacturer, refrigerated trucking and storage, and a co-packer in Chilliwack that employs about ten staff to assemble Jumpstarter.

In 2018 alone, Hull estimates the trickle-down effect on many agriculture and food-related industries will surpass $600,000 in increased revenues.

But moving the product to market was only half the battle.

Creating brand recognition in the increasingly competitive “whole meal replacement” category presented the next challenge in the Jumpstarter saga.

After repeatedly dealing with customers unaware of her company’s locale, Hull decided to undertake a local marketing initiative to highlight Jumpstarter as a truly proud BC brand.

“We consider ourselves ‘triple local’ as our product is grown, raised and made here in BC,” says Hull proudly. “Emphasizing this attribute offers a considerable marketing advantage as being ‘Made in BC’ has become synonymous with quality, cleanliness and trustworthiness.”

And thanks to funding for a comprehensive campaign that included online advertising, in-store demonstrations, and upgrades to their website, social media platforms and promotional materials, their sales have more than doubled and they are now available in most major retailers across BC.

“This year alone we added Thrifty Foods, expanded our reach with Safeway, added two new distributors, entered into food service/hotel catering, and have agreements with dozens of smaller retailers from hockey arenas to arts centers and organic grocers,” says Hull, who foresees steady growth and already has several new products in the pipeline.

As with their original product line, Hull plans to continue sourcing local ingredients and is looking forward to adding more BC agri-businesses to their network.

“Local is more than a buzz word or a marketing ploy,” she insists. “It’s a commitment to your community that creates a genuine bond and benefits all members, whether you’re making, selling or eating BC food.”

For more information about innovation funding visit iafbc.ca/funding-opportunities/innovation/

Funding: $8,263 provided by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia through Growing Forward 2, a former federal-provincial-territorial initiative for the innovation project (INN244SP); $24,569 provided by the Government of British Columbia for the Buy Local project (BL293).

New BC Product Offers More Nutrition to Diabetics

For Raveen and Shane Kullar, unique needs deserve unique solutions – and fortunately for their Burnaby-based business, finding unique solutions is what IAF is all about!

So when the dynamic duo decided to create an innovative meal replacement drink that diabetic and pre-diabetic consumers can confidently enjoy, we were only too happy to offer project support to pilot, demonstrate and commercialize Zuun Nutrition.

Now after two years and two innovation projects, the Whole Food Meal Replacement is headed for stores this July! For the first time ever, diabetic British Columbians can access a convenient, local, all-natural, whole-food based alternative that can optimize blood sugar and sustain energy when combined with a well-balanced healthy meal plan.

“We’ve managed to utilize a blend of proteins, complex carbohydrates, fiber and omega acids to provide the equivalent of a full meal’s worth of calories and nutrients, including a full serving of fruits and vegetables,” explains Raveen Kullar, adding that the project was deeply personal to him and his family given their own struggle with diabetes.

With their ongoing frustration with carb counting and meal replacement, the Kullars wanted to be the first to develop an effective, all-natural product to help people thrive within the diabetic community.

“We were desperate to find a convenient option that met our nutritional requirements, but the only options we could find were either full of preservatives and fillers or lacking in crucial carbohydrate energy,” Raveen recalls.

Their new power shakes will fill a sizable gap in the market for diabetic consumers, which according to the Canadian Diabetes Association has more than doubled since 2000 (and is expected to increase by another 1.5 million people by 2020).

Soon to be available in chocolate or vanilla at local retailers like Choices Markets (as well as at myzuun.com), Zuun is the only available whole food sourced blend that contains slow and steady releasing complex carbohydrates and a complete protein blend, with healthy fats and high fiber to boot.

“Zuun Nutrition has an optimal glycemic response in the human body,” says Raveen. “It provides rich nutrition and steady carbohydrate energy without hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic effects on blood sugar levels.”

As they approach their launch date, the Kullars credit a number of project activities for enhancing their market prospects, including pilot trials at key retailers and farmers markets, a new website, product packaging and a digital marketing campaign, all of which enabled them to connect with hundreds of retailers interested in listing their product.

Raveen and Shane are especially pleased they were able to secure a contract with a 100 percent BC operated manufacturer that employs well over 150 local residents. If all continues to go well, Raveen is optimistic that this single new product will help support the local economies and small retail business owners throughout BC, as it allows them to carry a product unique from what is currently available in the mass market.

“We are confident that the commercialization of this product will help build BC’s reputation as a leader in health and lifestyle oriented products,” he declares, noting that they are anticipating company expansion and job creation, with potentially new and similarly healthy product lines in the future.

For more information about innovation funding visit iafbc.ca/funding-opportunities/innovation/

Funding: $52,245 provided by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia through Growing Forward 2, a former federal-provincial-territorial initiative. (INN255/INN328)

Innovation Award Winner Creates New Opportunities for Canadian Dairy

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.

Innovation Front & Center at Project Showcase

Leaders from across the industry came together at the 2018 Showcase of BC Projects in Abbotsford to collectively illustrate some of the latest (and greatest!) ideas that offer a bright future for BC agriculture.

The event, held in conjunction with the IAF Annual General Meeting on April 12th, featured exhibits from close to 40 projects funded through IAF that are helping to fuel innovation and market growth in primary production and food processing.

Hedy Dyck, Chief Operating Officer for the BC Landscape and Nursery Association (BCLNA), was among many funding recipients who have witnessed significant impacts unfold for her sector thanks to project support.

“Showcasing BCLNA’s projects is important to the nursery industry as well as other sectors, as we learn from the diversity of projects and how they can enable industry to move forward to face challenges,” says Hedy. “It is a pleasure to work with IAF to find the pathways to address emerging issues and build a strong and vibrant industry.”

Programs like the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program proved particularly instrumental for a variety of sectors. For Dr. Saber Miresmailli, Founder and CEO of Ecoation Innovative Solutions, Innovation funding played a vital role in his efforts to advance crop health technology. With the development and commercialization of Crop Sense™, a wireless crop health monitoring system, growers can now identify where and when treatment is needed based on plant-generated signals before symptoms arise, significantly reducing crop loss, labour and pesticide applications.

Zuun Nutrition received Innovation funding to develop and commercialize an all-natural diabetic meal replacement drink, while Big Mountain Foods (BMF) accessed support through different funding programs to help expand their product line and grow their business. After developing the unique meat-free and allergy-friendly CauliCrumble Veggie Grounds with the help of Innovation funding, the family business turned to the BC Government’s Buy Local Program and the BC Agrifood & Seafood Export Program to revitalize their brand. The resulting increase in listings, sales and online exposure in both local and international markets is creating more lucrative opportunities for both BMF and their value chain partners in BC.

“With the increased demand we have been able to evolve from a small- to a medium-sized food manufacturer that is creating more jobs and sourcing more local ingredients,” BMF vice president, Jasmine Chamberland explains, noting that BMF has since employed several more full-time staff and now purchase truckloads of local ingredients instead of pallets.

Whether funding research into more sustainable pest control, technology to enhance animal welfare, or moving new products to market, we are proud to support BC’s leaders and innovators as they drive our industry forward one project at a time.

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

Funding for the BC Government’s Buy Local Program is provided by the BC Ministry of Agriculture.

BC Buy Local Award of Excellence

Congratulations again to Kirk Homenick, winner of the inaugural BC Buy Local Award of Excellence!

The president of Naturally Homegrown Foods was recognized in 2017 for his Buy Local campaign, ‘A Chip Close to Home,’ for not only continuing to drive local agrifood sales but also for creating several new jobs for British Columbians.

Recognized as Honourable Mentions were Merissa Myles, Co-Founder of Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt, for using Buy Local funding to connect with grocery buyers, celebrity chefs, and consumers about the benefits of buying 100% BC milk dairy; and Robert Pringle, CEO of the United Flower Growers Cooperative Association, who spearheaded the ‘Flowerful BC’ initiative to encourage consumers to ‘pick local’ when buying plants and flowers.

The BC Buy Local Award of Excellence celebrates one outstanding BC producer or processor based on the achievements of the best Buy Local marketing project—the campaign that was the most creative, strategic and effective in increasing sales and consumer engagement. The 2017 winner was announced at the BC Food Processors Association’s FoodProWest Gala in Vancouver.

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