Ontario's food manufacturing industry is an innovative hothouse, where ideas germinate and flourish to support your food operations. This climate of innovation and collaboration in Ontario yields new ways of improving agriculture production. Our producers collaborate with academia, government and research facilities to advance food growth processes using cutting edge technology. This results in supplying our food processors with cost-effective, traceable and high-quality produce.

Here are some of the innovative companies and recent concepts that are changing how we harvest our food:

Handle with care and speed up harvesting

  • Driedger Farms Inc. in Essex County developed a self-propelled machine with a disc head assembly in front of the chassis. The system gently lifts and transfers entire rows of tomato plants to neighbouring rows with no damage to the fruit. Even better, it speeds up harvesting by 19%.

Advanced, computerized system for packaging

  • Bradford's Carron Farm's produces a variety of carrots. Filling each bag with an assortment of colours was a challenge. The Farm's equipment is the first of its kind in Canada; the stainless steel system uses advanced computerized scales and sensors to ensure each retail-ready bag contains the right weight and colour combinations.

Cloning plants for year-round production

  • Dornoch Hops has revolutionized the brewing industry when co-founder Cherie Swift used cloning and root-cutting techniques to produce low-cost living plants for hops growers. Now, she can generate hundreds of plants from a single parent and do it year-round with 100% success.

Counting the chickens after they hatch—automated traceability

  • At Feather Weight Farms in Sarsfield, tracing chickens all the way to the consumer has never been easier or faster. The new, automated traceability system it has implemented eliminates paper and keying errors. Printed bar codes and data guns make it simple to track each batch of chickens and transfer documents down the supply chain. At the same time, they cut the cost of recording flock data. If a recall was ever required, it would take a mere three hours - a fraction of the 24 hours required by a paper-based system.

Online tracking results in less bad apples

  • In Ontario's orchards, GPS mapping has laid the groundwork for a new traceability system developed by Ontario Tender Fruit Producers and a Kingston-based IT company. The web-based system, called "Tracker", provides growers with a suite of tools that includes online recordkeeping, pest management tracking and inventory tracking - all tied to individual fields. Growers can use "Tracker" to make informed choices about how much spray to use and when to irrigate. Most importantly, it creates the traceability that retailers are demanding.

Ontario supports and funds innovation in the food processing industry. Almost half of Canada's full-time R&D personnel are in Ontario, where more than $14.6 billion is spent annually on R&D. In addition, Ontario's R&D tax credits are the most generous in the G7. This cultivates new ideas to streamline the growing process, and makes Ontario a fertile environment to grow your business.

Learn more about Ontario's innovation ecosystem

February 20, 2015

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