By: Lindsay Wileniec, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
There are more than 300 entities that contribute to Saskatchewan’s thriving and diverse value-added industry. The sector is wide-ranging, including companies that brew beer, produce bio-fuels, mill organic flour, crush canola and more. One of these unique companies adding value to Saskatchewan’s agricultural goods is InfraReady Products, an industrial ingredient manufacturer based out of Saskatoon.
InfraReady was established in 1994 by the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool in an effort to add value to cereal grains before they were exported. Lead by Mark Pickard, InfraReady’s CEO and long-time champion, the company has grown from two employees to 13 and offers over 250 products today. The infrared pre-cooking technology that the company uses is unique to InfraReady, and allows them to create custom-designed products.
The company’s products are made from a range of raw goods, including cereal grains, oilseeds, ancient grains and pulses. These include widely used and versatile ingredients like wheat and flax, as well as lesser known varieties unique to InfraReady such as Purple Wheat a.k.a. AnthoGrain™ Wheat. InfraReady’s pre-cooked products have a shorter cooking time, decreased microbial and enzymatic activity, increased shelf life and enhanced flavour. Applications for the ingredients are wide-ranging and include instant soup, plant-based burgers, speciality flour blends and snack bars.
Mark credits InfraReady’s success to five key factors: clarity of vision, unique products and diverse markets, innovation, depth and breadth of relationships, and accreditation. The Good We Get From GrainTM is the tagline used by the company.
Mark’s advice for those looking to start or expand a value-added business in the province is to “utilize the resources in the enabling environment.” He cites the “enabling environment” as Saskatchewan’s value-added advantage, which includes “an industrious and qualified workforce, synergistic relationships within the supply chain, availability of resources and cost structure.”
InfraReady previously participated in the Ministry of Agriculture’s Saskatchewan LEAN Improvements in Manufacturing (SLIM) program. SLIM provides support to agri-businesses that process bio-product, food and feed from Saskatchewan crops and livestock. The program provides funding for improvements in productivity and efficiency through the adoption of best practices, new technologies and state-of-the-art processes. In InfraReady’s case, the SLIM program helped support capital developments which eliminated inefficiencies and supported the company’s value creation index.
For more information on the company and their products, visit the InfraReady website. If you are interested in learning more about the opportunities in Saskatchewan’s value-added sector, please contact the Ministry of Agriculture’s Value-Added Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.