Print

Guelph ON, 26 August 2020 - A Canadian dairy co-operative has teamed up with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to develop a chemical-free way to prevent the risk of listeria in food processing environments.

Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Limited (“Gay Lea Foods”) is working with Dr. Hany Anany of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Guelph Research and Development Centre to identify and test the effectiveness of natural antimicrobial agents – lytic bacteriophages or bacterial viruses that will specifically target only Listeria bacteria without harming other beneficial species.

The project is part of the Canadian Food Innovators (CFI-ICA) research cluster “Using science and innovation to strengthen Canada’s value-added food industry” through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership's AgriScience Program.

“Canadians and consumers around the world know they can trust Canada’s high-quality safe food,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “This initiative is finding new and innovative ways to enhance food security in an eco-friendly way, which is a win-win for both consumers and the environment.”

Listeria monocytogenes is one of the most common food safety risks for humans, and outbreaks of Listeria-associated food-borne illnesses have been traced back to fresh and ready-to-eat foods like dairy, meat, eggs, vegetables, and seafood. Effective sanitation is key to controlling Listeria in processing environments, but this currently involves the use of chemicals that may have negative environmental impacts as well as support development of antimicrobial resistance.

“We take sanitation very seriously; we are also attentive to consumer demand for food safety as well as their growing preference for natural products. We know there is data available on using biological agents to reduce pathogenic bacteria in various stages of food production,” explains Anilda Guri, Senior Research Scientist at Gay Lea Foods. “So, we took this opportunity to be the first ones in dairy to support this type of research. This is not a mitigation situation, but a way to be proactive for the future.”

The research involves identifying different naturally occurring Listeria phages and evaluating how well different combinations of those phages reduce the growth of Listeria in a dairy processing environment. The goal is to have a new bio-sanitation agent that can be used to sanitize equipment, food contact surfaces and drains in food processing plants and serve as an effective natural alternative to chemical antimicrobial products.

“This innovation can be expanded to other bacteria-driven food safety concerns across the broader food processing sector,” says CFI-ICA Chair Joe Lake, Director of Innovation & Research at McCain Foods Limited. “Projects like this are important to enhancing the productivity, quality and competitiveness of Canada’s food and beverage processors.”

More information about the project, including a video, is available at https://canadianfoodinnovators.ca/project/an-eco-friendly-solution-to-prevent-listeria-risks-in-food-processing-environments.

 
Print

August 26, 2020

A wide range of standard and custom manufactured mechanical components for robotic, pick-and-place, packaging, and materials handling systems have been introduced by Stafford Manufacturing Corp. of Wilmington, Massachusetts.

Stafford Shaft Collars, Couplings & Mounting Components include over 4,000 standard parts that come in a wide range of materials, sizes, and configur- ations; plus custom parts manufactured to OEM specifications.  Providing a rigid permanent stop, spacer, and shaft mount or an easily adjustable solution where required, parts are available in steel, paintable steel, stainless steel, anodized aluminum in colors, plastics, and other materials.

Suitable for design and maintenance applications, Stafford Shaft Collars, Couplings & Mounting Components include the Staff-Lok hinged collar which is easy to open-close and clamp by hand, 1-pc, 2-pc, and hinged collars, Micro-adjustable collars for fine-tune positioning, precision sleeve couplings, and shaft couplings and adapters for joining different shafts.  Sizes range from 1/4” to 6” I.D., depending upon the part and material.

 Stafford Shaft Collars, Couplings & Mounting Components are priced according to configuration and quantity.  Pricing is available upon request.

 
Print

July 27, 2020

Livestock, dairy industries face pandemic fallout

The continued popularity of meat-fee diets may point to the damaging legacy of COVID-19 for some sectors

Before COVID-19, the craze for vegetable proteins was palpable. All we heard about were sustainability, animal welfare and Beyond Meat.

The health of the planet and well-being of animals became increasingly important factors to a growing number of Canadians, and it showed in the numbers.

A few months after the great confinement started, some new figures tell us that the interest in meat-free diets is still there.

In just four months, from February to July of this year, the popularity of major meat-free diets that don’t include land animal meat seems to have risen and continues to do so.

Dalhousie University surveys Canadians on eating trends almost every quarter. Comparing the last pre-pandemic survey (February 2020) with the first conducted during COVID-19 (July 2020), we’re able to see that rates of vegetarianism, pescatarianism (seafood is the only meat consumed) and veganism have increased.

Vegetarianism has increased from 1.5 to 2.5 per cent in a few months.

Pescatarism has also increased, according the recent survey. This diet, which is free of land animals but will include eggs and milk products, increased by 0.2 per cent.

The rate of vegan diets increased by 0.7 per cent. In other words, there are likely almost 600,000 Canadians who consider themselves vegan now and this is the highest measured rate in three years.

Of course, given the margin of error and numbers that remain relatively low compared to the rest of the population, the magnitude of these results must be taken with a grain of salt.

On the other hand, Canadians continue to be interested in diets that completely exclude land animal proteins.

Since March, when we were confined to our kitchens, the pandemic has certainly had an impact on our relationship with food. With the food service industry operating quite modestly for more than three months, domesticating ourselves and putting acute focus on cooking were the norm.

Each week had its interesting culinary trends. After the panic, peanut butter, and macaroni and cheese, we witnessed an extraordinary awakening of what using the kitchen was all about. Bread, pastry, pasta, meat – every week had its share of discoveries.

The agri-food industry struggled to keep up with us but it did.

Some experts have been saying that the pandemic will end the vegan and vegetarian movement for good. The anti-animal-protein rhetoric has dominated the industry in recent years and some believed the pandemic would bring most of us back to traditional culinary practices. Vegans would give way to omnivores and the proverbial meaty classics would take their rightful place.

But if the survey numbers are to be believed, this shift isn’t happening.

The pandemic has really hurt some sectors. Livestock, for instance, was greatly affected and farm animals were euthanized. More than a dozen slaughterhouses in Canada were temporarily closed when workers contracted COVID-19. Chickens, hogs and other livestock had to be slaughtered. It’s difficult to know exactly how many were wiped out, but limited access to packing plants became a problem and forced many producers to cull perfectly healthy animals.

The milk industry also had its share of misfortune. Millions of litres had to be dumped into sewers across Canada. Restaurant closures disrupted the agri-food sector and the demand for certain products such as ice cream completely change overnight.

Although Canadians were unsure of what to think about on-farm waste, more than 90 per cent of them believe it’s morally unacceptable to euthanize animals or throw away milk, especially when millions of citizens are newly unemployed.

The pandemic has demonstrated how fragile our food supply system is. Wasting mushrooms, lettuce or potatoes will be problematic. But animal and dairy production brings its share of morality and stakes are much higher when the supply chain is disrupted.

Producing food through animal breeding only to kill and dispose of them, whether intentional or not, is troubling. Period.

The continued popularity of meat-fee diets may point to the damaging legacy of COVID-19 for some sectors. Canadian consumers appear to still be looking for more protein options to put on their plates.

Despite these results, meat and milk are still popular for most Canadians, make no mistake. Restoring reputations should be top of mind for anyone working in livestock and dairy industries.

 
Print

August 20, 2020

Here’s why things will never be the same at the grocery store

From online grocery shopping to home delivery to cooking with fresh ingredients to higher prices to fewer choices in stores

More than five months into the pandemic, we can start to see how life will look on the other side. At the grocery store, some changes will disappear while others will stay with us for the foreseeable future.

Food is getting more expensive everywhere, including Canada. We expect prices to increase by four per cent. Additional costs these days are too much to absorb for farmers, processors and distributors.

Financial results were impressive for the first few quarters, to be sure, but sunny days for food companies won’t last. Many companies are pivoting and trying to reach consumers who are looking for new options.

The food-service industry is barely at 60 per cent of what it was before COVID-19.

But things are starting to pick up and consumers are finding new ways to get food by adopting fresh habits.

Prices for products like beef have gone up by as much as 20 per cent since January. Some factors have nothing to do with the pandemic, but COVID-19 unquestionably didn’t make things easier for financially insecure consumers.

Food security was a challenge in Canada even before COVID-19 and the pandemic has made matters worse. The ratio of Canadians who have experienced food insecurity at least once in the last 12 months went from one in eight to one in seven. That means almost 700,000 more Canadians have now experienced food insecurity.

That’s why organizations like Second Harvest and Food Banks Canada play such a critical role. No government programs, not even the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), can help Canadians so quickly. And given that CERB will end in September, we desperately need food rescuing for those in need.

Perishables are more in fashion since we spend more time in the kitchen. Staying at home will result in consumers processing their food more often. Non-perishables were highly popular at the start of the pandemic, but consumers got more acquainted with ingredients they can cook in recent months. With more people working from home, or from anywhere but work really, we expect to see more consumers buying fresh more often.

This is bad news for the brand companies you find in the middle of the grocery store. Portfolios are likely to shrink and less choice will be offered to consumers in months to come. Carrying more than 39,000 food items in one store can be expensive, so ‘less is more’ will be grocers’ new motto. And who needs Twinkie-flavoured milk, really? (Yes, it exists.)

Another massive change is online food purchasing. In just five months, we’ve seen many markets in Canada go from being severely under-served to being offered several options. Liquor stores, specialty stores and, of course, mainstream grocers are delivering food within hours, sometimes even faster.

It’s now normal to let a stranger pick your food. If you live in a city of over 200,000 inhabitants in Canada, it’s also very reasonable to expect your online order to be delivered within two hours, with little or no substitutions. That’s the new benchmark.

Instacart, Voilà by Sobeys and Longo’s in Ontario are all looking at new standards and expectations. Orders are being fulfilled with accuracy rates higher than 95 per cent.

In 2017, grocers got their wake-up call when Amazon acquired Whole Foods. But still these grocers barely committed to online delivery. We saw the timid emergence of clicks and collects everywhere, which was nowhere near good enough for pandemic-stricken households.

Now, the online game is on. Of all food sales, online purchases were under two per cent before the pandemic. But by the end of this year, online food sales could reach almost four per cent. Canada is catching up – the United States is at seven per cent while the United Kingdom is at 10 per cent.

However, if you do order online, expect to pay more. On average, including delivery fees, consumers will pay seven to 10 per cent more for delivered food compared to a regular visit to the grocery store.

That’s quite a difference and is perhaps problematic for those who are stuck at home, for one reason or another. The disabled, elderly and people in self-isolation are compelled to pay more.

That may seem unfair, but the socio-economics of home food delivery will evolve and likely become more competitive.

As for the glass barriers, arrows on the floor, masks and cart-cleaning staff, they will go away. Maybe. Eventually.

 
Print

August 18, 2020

There has been a lot of talk lately about the Connected Worker”. The "Connected Worker" converges different technology trends such as Cloud, mobile, web, chat, social, wearables, AI/ML, and more to change the entire working life of a companies’ front-line worker. In an era of uncertainty during Covid-19, it's important that a company not only thinks of enabling their front-line workers with important ERP operational data, but also empowers them with step-by-step guided work instructions that helps them get the job done faster, better, cheaper and safer.

By 2050, the world population is estimated to grow from 7.6 billion to 9.6 billion. This growing population will boost consumer demand across all industries. From construction, to food & beverage, to life sciences, oil & gas, and many more industries. This growing demand means that we expect to see investments into production and manufacturing facilities, creation of many new jobs and a positive impact to the economy. Ultimately this positive impact will lead to hiring of many new front-line workers to support these operations. 

Sundeep Ravande is the CEO of Innovapptive Inc. and believes in a better way of running plant based operations. In most enterprises, operations are a set of tedious linear steps – slow, inaccurate and highly inefficient. Sundeep believes in a world where field work can be done faster, cheaper and safer. He envisions Innovapptive to be at the center of all plant-based conversations between humans, machines and workflows. By digitally and autonomously connecting humans, machines, and workflows in the 21st Century Economy, Sundeep aims to create a "Connected Workforce" experience for 11 million field workers across the globe.

Sundeep says there are four challenges that business operations will have to face to keep their operations running. These include:

  • Digital Natives – The New “Front-Line” Worker – While the above growth in population is the good news, the bad news is that many of these new front-line workers are born digital natives. They expect everything digital in their life and we expect to see a talent war with these new front-line workers having a choice in where they choose to work. The new front-line workers will be expected to perform highly complex jobs and processes with minimal human interactions in the COVID-19 Era. Big, fat binders, walkie-talkies and pages of work instructions will no longer even be an option. Availability of experts to hand-hold these front-line workers is also rapidly diminishing and with COVID-19, it even makes things harder to keep machines running and spare parts available at the right time and at the right place. 
  • Disappearance of Tribal Knowledge - The tribal knowledge that exists with your expert front-line workers is expected to disappear in relatively short time. The average age of front-line workers is at 44.1 years and it's estimated that these workers will soon start to leave the workplace, creating a huge skills gap and tribal knowledge disappearance. This aging workforce, coupled with a tight labor market, has resulted in critical skills and talent gaps impacting the ability of asset-intensive industries to recruit, train and retain a workforce with suitable competencies. The Manufacturing Institute estimates that because of the skills gap 2.4 million job openings in manufacturing will likely go unfilled through 2028, representing half of all open positions.
  • Shrinking Profit Margins - The growing pressure on profit margins and talent challenges is felt across all asset-intensive industries, such as CPG, Life Sciences, Oil & Gas, Utilities, Mining & Metals, Chemicals, and Industrial Manufacturing. This pressure doesn’t just stem from the rising cost of people; these industries are facing increasing demand from customers to deliver higher value for a lower cost.

Worker Safety - During the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen many business operations grind to a complete standstill, impacting production and revenue streams. New safety procedures, risk assessments and contact tracking will become an integral part of running an operation without interruption. Practicing “Social Distancing” requires context of worker health and their location within a plant or a site. The old ways of working and implementing standard operating procedures on paper will not work in the COVID-19 Era.

 

Page 3 of 23

<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>