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Renovation and expansion of food research centre in Manitoba is underway


Winnipeg, MB May 9, 2003 A C$11 million Food Development Centre (FDC) renovation and expansion project in Portage la Prairie has gone to tender and will soon provide more support for Manitoba food processors in the development of new products.

The tender was announced earlier this week by Manitoba’s agriculture and food minister Rosann Wowchuk and Trevor Winters, senior marketing and trade officer, on behalf of federal minister of agriculture and agri-food, Lyle Vancliefy.

“This investment in the Food Development Centre will help it meet higher quality standards and increase its research and development abilities,” says Wowchuk. “New competitive technology results in new value-added products and that translates into new jobs in our agri-food sector.”

The centre works with new, small and large food processors, providing services in process and product development, training and seminars, library and information access, and rental of its commercial pilot plant facilities.

The project will add 1,600 sq m of new space and renovate 2,300 sq m of existing space. It will combine four simultaneous food-processing lines in the facility and will meet federal food safety standards. This certification allows clients to develop, process and package products on-site for interprovincial and international markets.

The initiative will add a new meat processing suite as well as new suites for grains and oilseeds, bakery, and fruit and vegetable product development. New equipment to help Manitoba food processing companies develop new and better food products includes:

– a juice press for the extraction of all types of fruit and vegetable juices;
– environmental cabinets for accelerated and comparative shelf life studies;
– a head space analyzer for the measurement of gases remaining in a package to improve a product’s shelf life;
– a texture analyzer to measure the texture of food products and assess their taste and smell; and
– a supercritical fluid extraction unit–the only one of its kind in Canada at an applied research and development facility for the separation and extraction of valuable solid and liquid components from food products with nutraceutical properties.

Other equipment expected later this year includes a spray dryer, blancher, homogenizer, reverse osmosis system, ultrafiltration system, de-aerator, colloid mill and freeze dryer.

The renovations will provide additional space for Great Plains Aseptic Processors, a local company using Tetra Pak technology to operate a commercial liquid food processing and packaging facility for Manitoba’s food industry.

The renovation and expansion is funded with $7.9 million from Manitoba and $3.2 million from the federal government. The venture is expected to create as many as 1,400 jobs over the next 15 years. The City of Portage la Prairie and the Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie will provide a grant in lieu of taxes, equivalent to an investment of $800,000 over eight years.

The FDC is one of three facilities the province has created in partnership with the federal government to support the research of technologies for food processing, functional foods and nutraceutical development using Manitoba’s agricultural commodities. The National Centre for Agri-food Research in Medicine (NCARM) at the St Boniface Research Foundation and the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals (RCFFN) at the University of Manitoba were established through federal-provincial co-operation and funding.