Sutherland Gets Set For Market Development Tour

We recently sat down with Sutherland S.A. Produce as they prepared to embark on their 2019 export initiative. Thanks to Market Development funding under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial agreement, the Kelowna grower and packer is gearing up to promote BC cherries, blueberries and apples during a series of US and Asian trade missions this fall. Included in their ambitious itinerary are Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and potentially Japan (which opened its doors to BC cherries for the first time in 2018).

Aiming to familiarize itself with each market’s specific needs and capabilities, Sutherland will meet directly with various supermarket buyers and online retailers, making sure to inspect their potential client’s facilities.

“These visits are crucial for allowing us to assess the retail outlets firsthand and ensure that potential clients have proper cold-chain facilities and other logistics in place,” director of sales Rick Chong explains. “Ultimately, we need to be confident that the fruit we export will have a reasonable shelf-life and the Canadian brand will be maintained.”

Project funding will also enable Sutherland to attend Asia Fruit Logistica (AFL) in Hong Kong in September and the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit in California in October, both crucial tradeshows for their target markets.

AFL alone attracts over 50,000 visitors from all over Asia and the Middle East, offering Sutherland a venue to meet prospective new customers while strengthening relationships with existing clients.

Having completed previous export initiatives through IAF-delivered programs, Sutherland knows how critical funding support is for activities that can be prohibitively expensive for many companies.

“The funding we have received from the governments of Canada and BC has been an immense contribution to our business development in export markets – we could not afford to attend these shows without some financial assistance,” says Chong, adding that Sutherland’s annual sales have risen by at least 30 percent due to tradeshow participation and has allowed them to hire more staff.

The Sutherland team is equally optimistic for their newest project, both for themselves and for the approximately 200 BC growers they represent who stand to benefit from increased export opportunities.

Stay tuned to learn more about Sutherland’s latest expedition, we’ll catch up with them again this coming fall!

Funding: $50,000 from the Governments of Canada and British Columbia through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. (MD019)

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.

20 Years & Still Growing

2016 marked a significant milestone for BC agriculture and IAF, as we celebrated our 20th anniversary in Abbotsford last April. Along with industry and government, IAF directors and staff reflected on a rich collaboration that has fueled agri-food industry growth, competitiveness and sustainability across the province.

IAF’s formation in 1996 proved a pivotal turning point in BC’s agricultural evolution, with industry gaining unprecedented management of federal adaptation funding. Starting with the Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development Fund and closing with the Canadian Agricultural and Adaptation Program, the adaptation era represents more than $21 million of project investments in BC alone.

While dozens of funding programs have come and gone through IAF’s tenure, each has indelibly contributed to BC’s agricultural legacy. But don’t take our word for it— in 2016, IAF commissioned R.A. Malatest & Associates to complete an impact study to assess the economic, environmental and social impacts of government investments delivered by IAF and the results speak for themselves.

For funding recipients through the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program, federal-provincial funding allowed many to pursue more thorough research than would have been otherwise possible. Not only did project support result in new product lines for some, but several credit the funding for contributing to broader social and environmental impacts.

Michael Gilbert, founder of SemiosBio Technologies Inc. (Semios), is one of many who has witnessed multiple benefits unfold through his project. Considered a pioneer of precision farming in BC, Semios offers advanced technological services that combines data management science with agricultural best management practices. Using Innovation funding, Gilbert was able to implement and enhance a cost-effective application of pheromones for codling moth mating disruption. Not only has this allowed orchardists to minimize their use of inputs and reduce environmental impacts, but the Semios system also protects biodiversity by only applying species-specific pheromones that do not affect beneficial insects.

But the benefits don’t stop there. According to Gilbert, funding to develop the new technology also allowed him to significantly grow his enterprise in terms of managed land and workforce.

“The Semios team grew from five employees to thirty over the course of the project,” says Gilbert, adding that they have since expanded from managing only a couple hundred acres to nearly 13,000, comprising nearly 200 new clients.

Enhancing production and sharing best management practices is a cause shared by the BC Cranberry Marketing Commission (BCCMC). Thanks to government funding delivered by IAF, the BCCMC embarked on a five-year project to develop the BC Cranberry Research Farm, the first research facility of its kind in Canada and the fourth in North America. While the Farm was created with the aim of increasing cranberry production within Canada, it has drawn considerable interest—even longing—from all over the continent.

“We’ve had many cranberry researchers from all over North America, standing there with envy in their eyes wishing they had a centre like this to work at,” recalls Jack Brown, BCCMC chair.

In addition to providing BC growers with information to improve their plantings, researchers are also exploring the impacts of cranberry production on greenhouse gases, insect populations and soil and groundwater.

For Brian and Corin Mullins, owners of HapiFoods Group Inc., funding through the BC Buy Local Program and the BC Agrifood and Seafood Export Program was indispensable in securing their now iconic Holy Crap cereal in both local and international markets.

Thanks to in-store demos that served almost 7,000 samplers, Holy Crap sales soared from four bags to 25 bags per day in BC chain stores like Whole Foods Market, Overwaitea, Save on Foods, Choices Market and London Drugs, as well as at smaller independent grocery stores in BC.

HapiFoods then moved into the international arena, focusing on US and Asian markets, including Japan, China and Korea. Export funding enabled them to participate in 17 tradeshows that have created international brand awareness and generated international trade potential for the burgeoning enterprise.

“We would probably have done 10 to 15 percent of what we did if we were on our own,” Corin estimates. “Export and Buy Local funding was critical to our company’s growth by providing us with the means to ramp up production and marketing.”

These are just some of the many stories that illustrate the very tangible impacts that these investments have made over the years.

Since its inception, IAF has delivered $192 million in government funding to more than 1,700 projects that are helping to stimulate sizable growth for farm, food and processing businesses across the province. In terms of economic impact, the Malatest study found these investments leverage $1.85 for every dollar, totaling $355 million!

Although funding programs and priorities have changed over the past two decades, the focus of IAF remains steadfast – to support industry through each challenge and opportunity, building a stronger, more adaptive community and securing BC’s place as a leader in agricultural production.

Funding: $140,000 provided by the governments of Canada and British Columbia through the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative (INN018); $218,133 provided by the governments of Canada and British Columbia (A0678.01, A0678.02); $44,326 provided by the governments of Canada and British Columbia through the BC Agrifood & Seafood Export Program under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, and the BC Government’s Buy Local Program (BL151, EX017, EX017.02, EX069, EX069.02, EX203, EX317, EX347).

Export Sales Soar for Tartine Tarts

Geraldine Pelletier is looking forward to an exceptional year for her Vancouver company, Tartine Tarts. After persistent efforts to tap into the international market, the premium pastry manufacturer has achieved significant inroads in the US with the help of government funding through the BC Agrifood & Seafood Export Program.

One of IAF’s earliest export clients, Pelletier began laying the groundwork for expansion into the Pacific Northwest and Western US in 2014.

“With support to develop more effective branding for the Tartine product line and attend vendor shows and sales calls, we were able to establish an agreement with two key distributors and brokers in the Pacific Northwest and California,” she reports.

Delving into international waters, however, was not always smooth sailing for the Tartine team.

After considerable effort on two consecutive export campaigns, they suffered a major setback in 2015 when a US trademark ruling restricted them from marketing the ‘Tartine’ label, forcing them to incorporate a new company with the new name, ‘Tartistes.’

Despite the unanticipated delays to their export plan, Tartine eventually finalized relations with brokers and distributors on the US west coast, and by 2016 managed to secure new listings for their quiche products at a mid-sized grocery chain based in the Pacific Northwest and a national distributor.

“As a result of this early support we were able to establish the marketing and sales infrastructure required to sell and deliver product in the western US,” explains Pelletier. “Having developed the necessary relations with brokers in the geographic market in 2015, we were confident that continued efforts the following year would help us gain traction in the US market.”

Happy to help Tartine capitalize on their momentum, IAF once again delivered matching government funding that enabled them to embark on further market development activities, including meetings with prospective buyers, in-store demos, exhibiting at vendor tradeshows, and developing new marketing materials to reflect their new US brand.

By the end of April 2017, Tartine had already reached 75 percent of their export sales goal for the year, with listings at two of Kroeger’s west coast chains totaling more than $200,000 in sales.

According to a pleased Pelletier, their Tartistes 9” patisserie flan shell even managed to supplant a large European supplier listed with Fred Meyers.

“Support through the Export program has allowed us to attend more trade shows, develop more professional collateral material, and not hesitate to make trips to our geographic focus,” says Pelletier. “We are now looking forward to a good year overall for Tartine Tarts!”

Funding: $26,038 provided by the governments of Canada and British Columbia through the BC Agrifood & Seafood Export Program under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. (EX056, EX176, EX312)

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]

CRAFT BREWING, CIDER & DISTILLERY PROJECT FUNDING DELIVERED BY IAF SINCE 2013

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

*FUNDING PROGRAMS
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

Taking BC to the World

British Columbia’s solid reputation for food quality and safety and direct access by land, sea or air to sizeable markets in the United States, Asia, Europe and beyond, should make it an exporter’s dream.

“Capturing market share internationally can be daunting, not to mention expensive,” says Peter Donkers, IAF executive director. “That’s where the BC Agrifood and Seafood Export Program can help.”

Since IAF began delivering the Growing Forward 2 program in 2013, more than $2 million in matched funding has been invested in 226 projects.

The Okanagan Valley’s Jealous Fruits leveraged export funding to promote cherries in the US, Europe and several Asian countries.

They attended fruit shows, held in-store promotions, brought select customers to see their farms and travelled to meet buyers face to face. They also created a new exhibit and marketing materials.

President, David Geen, notes that sales are up over 50 per cent from last year, primarily south of the border. The company exports 85 per cent of its fresh cherry harvest.

“We could sell everything we produce, but now we don’t have to drop our prices to do so,” says Geen. “Export funding helped us develop multiple sales opportunities and get higher prices.”

More export options and higher prices play nicely into their plans to double production in the coming years.

BC seafood exporters are also benefitting from export funding. In June 2015, the BC Salmon Farmers Association partnered with the BC Shellfish Growers Association and Comox Valley Economic Development to bring international media to the BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival and Expo.

Media from the US, Korea, China and South America were hosted on special tours to salmon farms and shellfish operations, where they could meet and talk directly with producers. The value of the resulting TV, print and online coverage in international media outlets was estimated at $317,000, with circulation totalling 40 million.

“We expect international media coverage to keep growing from these new relationships,” says Jeremy Dunn, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. “Demand for our seafood is already high. This increased exposure should drive it further in these key export markets.”

For more information about the program, visit: www.iafbc.ca/funding-opportunities/export

FUNDING: $33,450to the BC Salmon Farmers Association and up to $70,700 to Jealous Fruits (three projects) through the BC Agrifood and Seafood Export Program under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. (EX090, EX095, EX157 AND EX178)

Export Initiatives Soar Overseas

Two years after the BC Agrifood & Seafood Export Program launched, BC companies representing a multitude of sectors are increasing sales and accessing new international markets.

Ethical Bean Coffee, a Vancouver-based Fair Trade Certified and organic coffee roaster, has not only been able to quadruple US sales by attending tradeshows in several states, but has also secured Japan as a new market through their US networking.

According to Viren Malik, Ethical Bean’s Chief Operating Officer, the funding is helping to fuel long-term growth for the company.

“The export program has contributed to immediate sales and created further opportunities that continue to develop,” explains Malik, adding that their third and current project with IAF has led to a major private label deal that will commence in late 2015.

Vancouver’s Pacific Rim Shellfish is making similar strides overseas.

“Thanks to export funding we’ve been able to expand our presence and distribute local-quality products on an international scale,” says Ed Sang, President of Pacific Rim Shellfish.

Funding allowed Sang to attend a series of events and meetings in China, as well as conduct a trade mission to Vietnam. In less than a year, the company has seen a ten percent sales increase and is making inroads with Vietnamese trade officials, potentially creating a new market for BC seafood.

Since the program began in 2013, more than $1.2 million in matched funding has been invested in over 150 projects to help BC’s agriculture, food and seafood sectors increase export sales and expand international market access.

Funding through the BC Agrifood & Seafood Export Program is available in 2015/16 to support international market development activities. Visit iafbc.ca for more information, or contact us at 250.356.1662 or funding@iafbc.ca.

Funding for the BC Agrifood & Seafood Export Program is provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and 
the BC Ministry of Agriculture under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

DEEBEE’S Teapops Take US by Store

It wasn’t easy setting a date to catch up with Dionne Laslo-Baker – since the launch of her company’s export initiative, the owner of DeeBee’s SpecialTea Foods has embarked on a whirlwind circuit of promotions to grow the U.S. market for her BC-based line of unique frozen treats.

Concerned over the nutritional deficit of most frozen novelties, Dionne was determined to tap into the multimillion dollar North American industry with an unprecedented product.

DeeBee’s Organic TeaPops represent the first certified non-GMO, organic, kosher, vegan, tea-based treat that are also gluten, dairy and soy free.

As a product that caters to a growing consumer base seeking healthier, allergy-friendly alternatives, TeaPops have earned acclaim from editors for World Tea Media, the Wall Street Journal and Good Morning America, to name a few.

Help from the Export program

While eager to build on this momentum, Dionne needed some help for the next critical steps. As a funding recipient of the BC Agrifood & Seafood Export Program, matching funding helped her pursue her target market by developing new promotional materials, traveling to international events and networking with retailers and media.

Exhibiting at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California proved a pivotal turning point for the young company.

“Natural Products Expo West is the biggest food show in North America for the natural and organic market,” explains Dionne. “Having support to participate really meant breaking into the natural and organic market and accessing buyers for the West Coast … this is the show you really want to have a presence at.”

Coast to Coast

The event was so successful that Dionne reapplied for funding to attend Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore, Maryland.

The two shows combined have generated a total of 150 retail leads, which Dionne and her growing team are currently pursuing.

“We’re now listed in Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco and Sprouts stores in 12 states, thanks to Export funding,” says Dionne. “I’ve really been blown away at how much support is available that continues to help us to launch into the US.”

What’s next for the jet-setting scientist and CEO?

“We’re looking to expand our presence within the Whole Foods Market chain and anticipate we’ll reach $2 million in export sales in 2015,” she reports.

With interest growing internationally from countries like England, India, Sweden, Israel and Mexico, she may even surpass herself.

Funding: $23,817 through the BC Agrifood & Seafood Export Program under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. (EX027, EX027.02)

BC AG Goes Global

From the US to the UK, throughout Asia and the Middle East, BC agrifoods have been circling the globe in pursuit of new markets, thanks to the BC Agrifoods Export Program.

In less than three months from its November 2013 launch, IAF fully committed Year One funds of over $600,000 into projects to help BC’s agriculture, food and seafood sectors showcase their products around the world.

Companies like vitamin manufacturer Herbaland Naturals, and Nutraex Food, a developer of natural sweeteners for mass produced foods, used Export funding to travel to Southern California and attend Natural Products Expo West, one of the world’s largest natural health product and supplement tradeshows.

Meyer Family Vineyards also headed south for the World of Pinot Noir Symposium in Santa Barbara, where they presented their Okanagan-produced wines to California consumers.

The Meyers were also able to travel to London to promote their award-winning pinot noir and chardonnay at trade and media tastings.

For president John Meyer, the project was a pivotal step in facilitating international market access.

“We previously secured a distributor and importer in California, but attending this event allowed us to launch into the California market,” explains Meyer. “We saw some direct sales from the show itself, plus we were able to develop some promising leads that will likely increase export sales within upcoming months.”

BC Gourmet Foods pursued target export markets in Dubai and the Middle East for their new premium seafood and wild mushroom product. As a result of project funding, the company is currently in the process of formalizing a food service partner agreement in the UAE.

Consolidated Fruit Packers (CFP) presented a bounty of BC blueberries and tree fruits to potential buyers in Germany and Japan, through a series of meetings and events. CFP president Brian Messent is particularly optimistic about the contacts they were able to establish in Japan, and is confident about their export plans for this new base.

For Messent, export funding is not only beneficial to his company, it is a key resource for enhancing the competitiveness of the entire industry.

“We are getting serious about export opportunities that can potentially boost profits for many BC fruit growers,” says Messent. “Our premium quality crops are already enjoyed within the domestic marketplace, but its important to have funding support available to help us expand our customer base and put BC products on the map.”

After a highly successful pilot year, the BC Agrifoods Export Program has been renewed for 2014-15. Up to $50,000 in matching funds is available for projects that enable industry engagement in international market development activities, including participation in international tradeshows, promotional events and incoming/outgoing missions, and creating marketing materials to support international market development. Participants must contribute 50% in cash of the total project cost.

For more program and application information, visit www.iafbc.ca/export-market-dev.htm

Funding: $33,331 through the BC Agrifoods Export Program under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.