No small potatoes for farming company turned agri-food innovator

- Burlington, Ontario

Burlington, Ontario is home to EarthFresh Farms, a Canadian company that specializes in supplying premium produce and a variety of product lines to the retail and food service industries.

When EarthFresh Farms was researching how to develop a new variety of potato, they reached out to the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) for support to ensure that the proper protocols were in place. NRC IRAP support for this project resulted in the firm maximizing their product yield, alongside developing a premium variety of potato that they could take to market. This project was the precursor to many more project successes aided by advisory and research and development (R&D) support from NRC IRAP. One of these projects incorporated scanning technology into their automation process, which enabled EarthFresh Farms to scan for defects both to the interior and exterior of the potatoes, contributing to higher-quality potatoes.

To help EarthFresh Farms successfully evolve and innovate, NRC IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor Estelle Havva Balevi worked alongside the business to guide and advise them from the start. Estelle tapped into NRC IRAP's vast network of internal technical and business expertise, which helped the firm gain the knowledge needed to modernize their operations and improve plant efficiencies. The firm also benefitted from connections made to NRC IRAP's network of external government and industry partners that has aided the firm in expanding sales across North America.

From their state-of-the art packaging facility in Burlington, the company is growing from a potato packaging company to an innovative player in the agri-food sector. Throughout this growth, EarthFresh Farms has remained committed to employing environmentally and eco-friendly solutions such as compostable and bio-based packaging, and efficient water use in their plant operations. NRC IRAP was involved on both fronts, supporting the firm to improve water conservation and reuse in production, as well as the firm's research and testing of materials to provide end customers with the most environmentally smart options.

EarthFresh Farms continues to evolve as a company and is poised to launch a new meal product line in 2022. The firm is also building on its business innovation and growth, and continues to work with support from NRC IRAP to develop a strong intellectual property strategy.

"NRC IRAP has been with us from the very beginning, providing the right advice and support to help us grow, innovate and seize new opportunities. From a potato packing company to a major innovative supplier to grocery retailers, foodservice distributors and meal kit companies, we would not be here without NRC IRAP's support."

Tom Hughes, CEO, EarthFresh Farms

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