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)

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)

BC Sales Soar for Big Mountain Foods

After wrapping up a year-long local marketing campaign across BC, Big Mountain Foods (BMF) was able to ring in the New Year with record demand for its increasingly popular Original Veggie Patty.

As part of the BMF initiative, the family business was able to revitalize their brand with funding to launch social media promos, host in-store and consumer tradeshow demos, and develop new product packaging and marketing materials.

According to BMF’s vice president, Jasmine Chamberland, results were almost immediate, especially following their in-store presentations.

“On average, each demo sold 100 units per store within a four hour period,” Jasmine reports, adding that for many shoppers, buying local proved as much a priority as eating healthy.

The Chamberland family has since witnessed growing interest from both consumers and retailers, leading to increased listings, sales and online exposure. By the end of 2017, BMF had gained over 1,000 followers on social media (many of whom are now actively promoting their veggie patty) and was also invited back to Veg Expo and Healthy Family Expo because of overwhelming customer response.

And with a 40 percent increase in sales by year end, BMF is equally optimistic about their 2018 forecast.

“Thanks to our new and enhanced marketing abilities we were able to get consumers talking about our company more than ever before and create a locally recognized brand that has opened the door to larger retailers,” says Chamberland.

With Loblaw and Walmart on their immediate radar (their largest accounts to date), the Chamberlands are expecting to double sales starting in 2018.

While Jasmine is excited to see instant acceleration, she is more interested in the long-term impacts on the business and the benefits unfolding for her community.

“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,” she explains, noting that BMF has since employed four more full-time staff and now purchase truckloads of local ingredients instead of pallets.

Funding: $61,960 provided by the BC Government. (BL255)

Brewing Success in BC

The growth of the craft brewing, cider and distillery industries is no secret in B.C. The B.C. Government estimates the number of craft brewers in has more than doubled since 2010, from 54 breweries to 118 in 2016.

The IAF is supporting this rapidly expanding sector by investing in market research, innovation, local and international sales. Since August 2013, IAF has delivered more than $490,000 in federal and provincial funding to 14 projects, ranging from innovating the spirit distilling process, to supporting cider export, and assisting the local marketing efforts of craft brews.

With the resurgence of craft brewing and distilling, the interest in and demand for specialty malts is growing. Malted grains provide the necessary enzymes for the starch to sugar conversion in fermenting alcohol, as well as much of the important flavour and aroma in beer and spirits such as whisky. The art of malting grains is centuries old, and while small-scale malting used to be commonplace, in North America the industry is dominated by a handful of large malting houses.

With support through the Canada-B.C. Agri-Innovation program, Pemberton Distillers embarked on a one-year pilot project to design and build a micro-malting machine, and test the feasibility of a small-scale micro-malting facility to produce local specialty and custom malted grains for the growing craft brewing and distilling industries in BC.

Pemberton Distillers is a certified B.C. craft distiller specializing in organic spirits, including single malt whisky.

“Our goal has always been to showcase the terroir of the Pemberton Valley in our spirits,” says Lorien Schramm, director of product development. “When you get a Scottish peated malt, it’s something distinctive to that area. The malting machine gives us the ability to make custom malts for our whisky using Pemberton peat or Pemberton wood.”

Overall, the process worked well to produce small batches of custom malt for distilling, but will need to be refined to produce the volume of malt needed by brewers.

“There is a lot of interest from craft brewers,” says Lorien. “We are really interested in seeing how we can grow that as well.”

Funding: $14,775.00 through the Canada-B.C. Agri-Innovation Program. [INN198]


File No.Project TitleProject LeadIAF’s Share ($)Program Funding*
A0770The Current Feasibility and Working Business Models for Small Scale Commercial Hop Farming in B.C.Persephone Brewing Company Inc.25,700.00SNF
BL100Strategic Branding, Labelling, In-store Promotions, and Communication to drive Sales/Revenue GrowthThe Liberty Distillery8,025.00BL
BL133Howling Moon’s “Rooted in B.C.” Cider RevolutionOkanagan Epicurean Enterprises Inc. d/b/a Howling Moon Cider House11,875.00BL
BL140Bliss…a different kind of Buzz!Meadow Vista Honey Wines9,921.00BL
EX127Howe Sound Brewing Eastern United States Export PromotionHowe Sound Brewing Company Ltd11,400.00EX
EX183Promotion of the X Four Vodka in the USA marketVon Albrecht & Associates12,568.32EX
EX221Sea Cider USA Export Development via Tradeshow & In-market Visit to WashingtonSea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse2,525.00EX
EX226VIP Event and Custom Agricultural Seminar for Florida Trade MissionBC Hop Company Ltd.4,750.00EX
EX264Sea Cider USA Export Development via Cider Conference Attendance & In-market Visit to Portland, OregonSea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse2,625.00EX
INN080Transforming the Okanagan Apple Sector through Hard Cider & BlendsThe BX Press Inc.46,451.00INN
INN198Micro-maltery Pilot ProjectPemberton Distillery Inc.14,775.00INN
INN254Development of a Small Scale In-bottle Pasteurization Process & EquipmentSea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse51,243.00INN
INN273Regional Hops Drying Kiln (Pilot)BC Hop Company Ltd.285,000.00INN
SP176Exploring the Viability of Hard Cider as a Value-Added product for Okanagan Apple GrowersDobernigg Orchards5,969.00CAAP

BL – B.C. Government’s Buy Local Program (Government of British Columbia)
CAAP – former federal Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)
EX – B.C. Agrifoods and Seafood Export Program (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Government of British Columbia through the Growing Forward 2 Initiative)
INN – Canada-B.C. Agri-Innovation Program (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Government of British Columbia through the Growing Forward 2 Initiative)
SNF – former federal-provincial Safety Nets framework