Canned beans that look freshly picked?
- SPONSORED CONTENT: PROVIDED BY ALYSHA DOMINICO OF TANGIBLE WORDS
- April 10, 2017
- News, Community, Quinte
How Technology and Qualified People Are Driving Business In The Bay of QuinteLocal business operators, the Sprague family of Sprague Foods in Belleville, combine four generations of experience in the food processing industry with a passion for innovation and food trends. Recently Sprague Foods stepped to the stage as an ambassador for local food in the Bay of Quinte Region and beyond when The Toronto Star recognized Sprague Foods’ leadership for innovation in the food processing industry (April 1 2017).
Sprague Foods’ innovations include adopting leading trends from Europe, using robotic technology, preserving nutrients at the same time, and creating eco-conscious methods for packing and shipping.
In their quest to bring more locally farmed food to Ontario’s grocery stores, Sprague Foods looked to Europe for an innovative system which could be used to produce high quality foods. With the prevalence of more educated consumers, Sprague Foods anticipated that the Canadian market would follow the European trend of demanding a higher quality product. One of the systems brought from Europe gives Sprague Foods the ability to produce shelf-stable products in glass. (Consumers regard glass as a safe packing material because glass is pure and inert.)
Because Sprague Foods has always produced smaller batches of product - large companies have relied on their Belleville plant to package specialty products which are shipped across Canada and around the world. But recently, Sprague Foods decided to start cooking and producing more of their own branded products. The Sprague Foods brand takes superior quality Canadian-grown products, and uses globally-influenced recipes to create a product that appeals to “Foodie” taste buds and ethics.
Canadians want to eat Canadian-grown food
“There is a significant trend that more and more Canadians want to buy Canadian products,” says company President Rick Sprague. “We’re getting love letters from consumers in Saskatchewan who are thrilled that we’re packaging Canadian lentils and using them in Sprague Foods soups and products.”
Indeed, Sprague Foods’ products represent a rapidly increasing portion of revenue because of their focus on producing 100% Canadian Products. It’s for this reason that Sprague is particularly happy that the Quinte Economic Development Commission (QEDC) launched the “Made In the Bay of Quinte” program - a logo manufacturers proudly display on their packaging and which residents can see on grocery shelves.
Eco-Conscious Packing and Shipping
Sprague Foods products aren't just keeping up with demand for Canadian Food - most products are vegetarian, Kosher and non-GMO. As more ancient grains become available, Sprague incorporates them into recipes. In the Sprague Foods plant, innovative techniques, such as “Canned Heat”, steam the beans in the can, preserving the food’s quality, texture, safety and nutritional value.
As an added environmental benefit, Sprague Foods can now ship 50% more cans per truck because they aren’t shipping the water, which previously added significant weight. Not only does this reduce shipping costs and emissions, but it also consumes less energy at the plant; Canned Heat removes the need to heat and sterilize water since it no longer accompanies the vegetable inside the can.
Manufacturing is going through an exciting transformation in Canada
Canada’s leadership in the tech world is a wonderful complement to the manufacturing sector at home. And more and more manufacturers are innovating thanks to the calibre of education typical amidst Ontario employees.And with robotic packaging, Sprague Foods is reaching new heights in efficiency on their production floor. Now they’ll be able to produce higher volumes more efficiently, allowing Sprague Foods to commit to new partners - such as their new relationship with Costco. (Look for Sprague Foods’ Organic Lentil Soup with Vegetables on the shelves! And see the list of Bay of Quinte grocery stores where you can buy more Sprague Foods’ products).
Sprague Foods is on a path to increase production.
With this demand from consumers, plus further innovations in efficiency, Sprague Foods is expecting revenues to triple. But what’s just as important to Sprague Foods’ strategy as the technology they’ve adopted, is the ability to find and hire Bay of Quinte residents who share their vision. They’re hiring a Loyalist College graduate in April and will also explore Elevate Plus to host placements.
Given their unique combination of forward thinking, willingness to adapt and insistence on healthy, quality products, Sprague Foods will likely be a thriving business in Bay of Quinte Region for a long time to come.
This article is supplied by Quinte Economic Development Commission.
If you have any questions about information in this article, please contact the QEDC at 613.961.7990
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