Conferences: To Go or Not? We want to hear from you!

Branko is currently at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim and is sending us tid-bits from the event - we can't wait for him to return with samples! If you'd like to hear what Branko learns from this trip, join us for an evening of networking on March 29

This expo is a great chance for AFC to find market opportunities for its members and explore the current trends in functional foods and value-added markets. There is always a new buzz and right now adaptogens are making a name for themselves, and we're sure Branko will return with news on other trends too.

We'd like to know if you attend trade shows, and why? We'd also like to know if we can put Branko to work for you! Are there questions you have about the natural products or functional foods markets? Are you looking for network connections? These are issues we work with our members to help them solve.

North American Conferences in 2017

There are several international conferences that are applicable to AFC and its members, but this list focuses on NA conferences. Are you attending any? Are you looking to connect with others before you go? Or maybe you're looking to share a booth with another company or organization from Alberta? Let us know and we will do our best to connect you.

March 8-12, Anaheim: Natural Products Expo West

April 2-4, Chicago: Specialty Food Business Summit

April 18-2-, Orlando, Ingredient Marketplace East

May 20-23, Chicago: National Restaurant Assoc. Show

June 19-22, San Diego: BIO International Conference

June 25-28, Las Vegas: Institute of Food Technologies

July 23-26, Montréal: Bio World Congress

September 25-29, Las Vegas: Supply Side West

Insights from the 91st CPMA Convention - Calgary, AB

GROWING STRONG - this years CPMA convention theme was front and center as the BMO Centre busted at the seems with producers, retailers, suppliers and more. We arrived on site for the grand opening of the trade show and spent the day taking in all the new trends and ideas. 

Packaging was big this year, as some brands leaned towards a more retro look and some to the functional modern look. There were a number of producers including Sunset and Topline Farms using fibre pints with a top seal for organics, giving it that farm to market feel, while protecting the produce from damage and handling. 

There were a variety of new bad designs this year. The most prominent ones were the Sun Select grape tomato bag that looks like a mason jar which is resealable, microwavable sweet potatoes from Side Delights called 'Steamables', and even eco carbon negative peppers in reusable produce bags from Sunset. Packaging also gave way to producers to add a sense of sustainability as Jet Labels provides FSC certified labeling options.

There were chefs galore this year as Sunset, Sunkiss, Littlehouse and the Netherlands, wow'd attendees by cooking up some fantastic bite-sized delights. with this came the introduction of Mann's 'Culinary Cuts', where the prepared product such as cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, remove a lot of the work with ready to cook veggies. There was also an influx of ready to cook with herbs and spices, now giving the consumer all the herbs and spices they need in one package to create a marinade or specific cooking flavour, such as Italian or Indian. 

And of course some great Canadian products were on show. Little Potato Company celebrates their 20th anniversary, as Angela Santagio also receives the Alberta Women Entrepreneurs Celebration of Achievement Award. They launched a new style of potato called 'Chilean Splash' available in retail outlets now. We also got to taste Arctic Apples, which have been breed to not turn brown as the fruit ages. Even the dried apples slices were as white as biting into a fresh apple. 

Take a look at the pictures below to see some of the highlights from this years CPMA Trade Show.

Natural Products Expo West - Review

In March, Branko attended Natural Product Expo West to scope out what is happening in the Industry. NPE West was first started in 1981 and attracted 3000 attendees. This year the show floor covered more than 1 million sq. ft. with over 2,700 exhibitors! 

Branko, brought back some trends and opportunities that could impact Alberta commodities, processors and companies! Take a look at the slideshow and let us know if you are capitalizing on any of these trends. 


2016 Conferences

Bryanna at the Banff Centre - Social Innovation Residency

This was an invitation to a four week journey to learn more about self, systems, complexity, and social innovation. The journey began as 28 students and a handful of experts, teachers, guides came together at the Banff Centre. The program has been designed so that the participants take the time to learn about themselves and see how their life experiences, learnings, and views affect the system they are working in.

We began by learning about and delving into Calling: this is what I can do, and this is what the world is asking for. That place where the needs of the world come into alignment with your unique gifts and talents. Internal clarity meets external opportunity. Our next learnings have been modeledon the adaptive cycle which was derived from the study of dynamic ecosystems. It has four sections - release, exploration, reorganization, and conservation. Learning how we as individuals move through the cycle and how our organizations move through the cycle - learning that what came before is not a failure, but that new is an innovation.
When we begin to work in systems we need to be aware of a concept called bounded rationality - a concept that seems to make perfect sense in the scope you put it in but not in real life. Sometimes we miss the bigger picture because of out lens. We try to take complex systems and impose structure on them which tends to cause all kinds of problems. We have begun to look at our projects using systems maps finding the influencers that are both positive and negative and what impact they have on the system.

We used a technique called guided imaginary to look at where we are at in our lives, the larger story we are moving into, an obstacle we are facing, and a resource we can utilize. We spent some time looking at dreams how they work on a person and how you can use them to be changed by the tasks suggested in the dream. What if the projects we work on are not projects, but rather a dream we can share? Our journey moved to systems - how we see them, how we are in them. How changing something, just one thing can impact the larger system - how each of us can change a system.

Change is monumental - but where is the wolf?

Signing off for now...


Small Business Gem in Northeastern Alberta

Calling all food sector entrepreneurs!  Portage College’s Food Science Centre has many tools that can help turn your home-kitchen based business into a thriving enterprise.  AFC staff recently toured the facility in St. Paul, Alberta.  This state of the art learning facility houses a two line commercial kitchen, meat processing lab, bakery lab, packaging lab, and a kettle lab.  There is also a specialized science lab to assist with the training and future research projects.  In addition, there are office suites that can be rented at a reasonable cost to help entrepreneurs ease into scaling up.  A common setback of many small businesses is that they take on too much space too quickly.  The Food Science Centre can help alleviate this by renting the space you need, when you need it.  Through the incubator program, you can produce large volumes of your product to build a solid base before making an investment into your own processing facilities.  In addition, there are opportunities to sell the goods you produce at the centre in the retail store on campus exposing your products to the community and providing one more point of sale.  Reuel Thomas, Industry Liaison Manager with Portage College said: “the food science centre at Portage College is the intermediate step between taking your cottage industry from the stovetop in your home, to commercialization at a place like the Leduc Food Processing Development Centre.  Clients can learn from College staff and confidently take their businesses to the next level.”   So if you’re ready for your product to hit the shelves, but need access to specialized equipment at a reasonable cost, contact the Food Science Centre today!

Portage College offers five Food Science programs that can help launch your small business: Culinary Arts Diploma, Food Processing Technician diploma, Institutional Cook Certificate, Baker Certificate and Meat Processing Certificate.  For more information on Portage College, please visit:


There’s a new government. Now what?

There’s a new government.  Now what?

Legislature building, edmonton

Legislature building, edmonton

Governments change.  Whether through general elections, by-elections, cabinet shuffles, defections, or promotions, it’s important to keep up with who is representing your organization and its interests.  If your elected official changes (or simply changes affiliations), it’s up to you to know their policies.  Developing a relationship with elected officials only when you want/need something isn’t fair to your organization or your representatives.  It’s important to cultivate relationships with your elected official at all times.  Remember that relationships work both ways: you should be contributing an equal amount of value to what you expect in return.  In most cases, this is in the form of industry information and your organization’s contributions to government goals and mandates.

When there is a change, be sure to introduce your organization to your new official – don’t assume that you’re on their radar.  One of the simplest ways to reach out is with a letter expressing your willingness to work with your elected official and share information that can help them make decisions.  Elected officials are busy people, so be patient when expecting a response.  Once they acknowledge your letter, reach out and offer to meet face-to-face.  Developing a relationship with their staff is also helpful when navigating schedules, and getting valuable face time.  Be sure to keep up-to-date with the latest policy directions and offer input where appropriate.  When you see your official in public, say hi to them and remind them of what your organization is working on.  For this it is important to be brief and consistent.  If you haven’t already developed an “elevator pitch” for your organization, stay tuned for an upcoming blog post where we detail elevator pitches and how they can benefit your organization.

For more information on how your organization can engage governments more effectively, contact AFC today.