BC Food Processors - Fall 2012 Tour  


I recently did a two day tour of BC food processors with Robin Smith, President (now retired) of the BC Food Processors Association.

Food processing is a natural complement to the agricultural sector as it allows value to be added to our primary products. Together BC's producers and processors generate about 10 billion dollars annually in gross revenue! This sector is also a major job-producer. For example, in 2010 more than 27,000 people worked in food and beverage processing.

Our first stop was Freybe’s Gourmet food.  Freybe's has been making sausages for 167 years! The range of products is truly impressive.

They say making laws is like making sausages - well, the process is a lot prettier at Freybe's!

After this, we went to Rossdown Farms and Natural Foods in the Fraser Valley.

Thank you Pat Wiebe for showing me the "blood and guts" of the operation. I visited on "turkey slaughter day". An experience I will never forget!

Rossdown is very diversified. It is remarkable that it hatches chicks, raises layers, produces  eggs and does its own slaughtering and processing.

Our last stop of the day was at Pacific Coast Fruit Products. The process just about every fruit you can imagine!

The next day we visited Vega.

This impressive BC company is best known for a nutritional powder for making shakes.

Charles Chang, President and Founder, shared the history of his business and where he would like to take it in the future.

After that we went to Gardein Protein in Richmond. You've likely heard of Yves Veggie Hot Dogs.

Yves Potvin's latest business is Gardein Protein. It  make a wide variety of packaged vegetarian foods.

I really appreciated the opportunity to see the process ...although some areas were off-limits and top secret!

Thanks to Chief Operating Officer, Darrell Askey, for speaking to the challenges and opportunities in the industry.

Our last stop of this tour was Fresh Direct Produce. Partner Albert Lum walked us through their 55,000 square foot refrigerated warehouse right in downtown Vancouver.

Albert spoke proudly about the relationships he has with local farmers.

Fresh Direct is a vegetable distribution company that imports from all over BC and from overseas as well. Fresh Direct has more than one hundred employees and 16 trucks.

One of my goals as Agriculture Critic has been to learn as much about the agri-food industry as I can directly from the people who are doing the work on a daily basis. I really appreciate that people share their time and insights with me.