By Carmen Ly, Communications Director, Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre Inc.
Clients of the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre are slaying the dragons on CBC’s Dragons’ Den. Recently, OATDEAL The Healthy Choice was on the hot seat as they pitched their oat-based hot/cold drink. Two dragons saw the opportunity and invested with OATDEAL.
Owner George Barreras approached the Food Centre over a year ago with his idea for an oat-based drink. The Food Centre Development Team worked closely with Barreras to refine his formulation to achieve the perfect drink mix that was tasty, nutritious and convenient. Barreras also received funding support through the federal-provincial Growing Forward 2 program the Saskatchewan Agri-Value Initiative (SAVI) for product development and marketing of this oat-based drink.
OATDEAL currently manufactures their products at the Food Centre’s federally inspected pilot plant and have been selling this new Saskatchewan oat-based drink through Federated Co-op and recently signed a deal to distribute in China. OATDEAL’s appearance on Dragons’ Den may ultimately open more doors for this innovative Saskatchewan food company.
In the past, other Food Centre clients, Three Farmers and Prairie Berries, were also in the familiar hot seat and pitched their products. Just recently, Three Farmers appeared on the Den’s Second Chance Special and pitched their chickpea and pea snacks. Both companies were successful in their pitches and benefited from their appearance on Dragons’ Den.
These clients are a true testament of the entrepreneurial spirit of Saskatchewan, with more on the horizon! The Food Centre works with 45 to 50 agri-businesses per year helping to commercialize new food products. In 2016, the Food Centre assisted in the development of 14 products that were launched into the marketplace by clients such as Zak Organics’ crunchy peas snacks and CanMar Grain Products’ flax bar, to name a few.
In 2016, federal and provincial governments provided a combined $13.35 million in funding for the construction of a new Agri-Food Innovation Centre (AFIC) to expand and strengthen the growing agri-food sector. The new centre will support multiple industry players, from fruit and vegetables to livestock, crops and dairy. The Food Centre will relocate to its new home in March with the rest of its services, development kitchen and extrusion, to follow. The Food Centre will continue to operate its federally inspected pilot plant located at the University of Saskatchewan Campus on 52 Innovation Boulevard.
The sky is the limit for Saskatchewan agriculture. With new and improved services and more than 35,000 square feet of facility, the Food Centre will provide more options for producers to add value to their crops and livestock and increase the competitiveness of Saskatchewan food processors in the global marketplace. Dragons – be prepared!