Market Access and Supporting Local
Working with businesses to bring new products to Nova Scotians and the world
Programs Accelerate Local Food and Beverage Businesses
Nova Scotia companies sometimes need support to bring innovative, high quality and safe food products to market, and maintain the markets they already have through regulatory compliance and certification support.
In 2021-22, Perennia worked with the province to develop the Food and Beverage Business Accelerator Program focused on supporting new and current food and beverage businesses with technical advice, training and resources, testing to ensure safe foods, new facility plans and funding to support the development of new products and food safety programs.
The first year of this two-year program ran from October 2021 to February 2022.
- 14 product development and food safety projects were completed
- 180 companies with high-risk food products were supported with analytical testing, product assessments, recall support and education, and food safety guidance for new and current food grade facilities
- 24 newsletters and fact sheets were developed
- 7 webinars with 284 registrants and 230 views on YouTube
- 3 CanadaGAP Food Safety Training Workshops
Since 2019, Perennia’s Seafood Accelerator Program has been supporting growth in Nova Scotia’s seafood industry by assisting with food safety compliance, accessing and maintaining global markets, supporting development of new value-added products and refining and improving existing seafood products. In total, 23 companies were supported with product development and/or food safety related projects, including supporting 11 companies to achieve or maintain Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) certification. Several projects supported developing products and addressing technical obstacles through packaging solutions, conducting shelf-life studies, conducting market viability studies, developing and delivering seafood science training, and working on product prototypes
The program is available to all Nova Scotia-based seafood companies and reaches a broad range of the industry including marine plants, aquaculture and commercial fish and shellfish species. This program is funded by the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture and ends March 31, 2023 or when all funds have been awarded.
“The Perennia team was able to help us develop from a company that was barely meeting CFIA standards, to a company that was able to achieve major GFSI certification. This was done through training, analysis and process improvement recommendations. This achievement has opened up a wide range of clients we are now eligible to do business with.”
–Atlantic Sea Cucumber
For several years, Perennia has had funding under the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program. In 2021-22, funding was provided for seven projects covering blueberries, maple, cannabis (value-added), seafood and food service.
Getting More Local Raspberries to Market
Perennia has been working with Horticulture Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture on a pilot program to evaluate the production of long cane raspberries in Nova Scotia. The goals of growing containerized long canes under cover in field high tunnels are to:
- reduce reliance on imports by filling gaps in Nova Scotia’s current production system where berries are not available
- improve the quality and shelf life of the berries
- add diversity to varieties available on the market.
Field raspberries are only harvested during two short windows during the growing season. A long cane production system will help fill local markets and grocery stores during those gaps. In addition to creating a continuous flow of local berries through the summer, the covered production system where the berries are grown reduces the number of unmarketable berries, and results in higher quality produce with better shelf-life. Accurate forecasting of outdoor raspberry yield is difficult to do when considering the sensitivity of berries to abiotic stresses, and the use of high tunnels will help to alleviate that uncertainty.
In 2021-22, Perennia organized a series of training webinars regarding the nursery production of long cane raspberry, conducted an extensive monitoring program at the two pilot farms throughout the duration of the field program including regular sampling and testing to fine tune the system, and hosted regular meetings with participants from the pilot farms and consultants from the Netherlands.
As farmers grapple with a changing climate, it is important they have the tools to adopt new production practices to maintain the local food supply in sufficient quantities. The resources and experience gained through the pilot program will set the stage for increased adoption of these protected soilless systems and allow for diversification of current production practices.
Perennia is quickly gaining a reputation for helping companies bring beverages to market.
In 2021-22, we worked with several companies on projects to create and/or more beverages to market.
- Worked with Limestone Beverage Group to reformulate an existing beverage recipe for scale up and commercial production, source new ingredients and develop processing guidelines. This work will allow Limestone to expand and sell their product in more locations and drive sales.
- Worked with Good Robot Brewing Company to create the company’s first line of flavoured sparkling water, Fancy Water. Two flavours – Moon Mist and Lime Rickey – were developed for launch in April 2022.
- Developed two prototype wine spritzers for a local winery to expand into the growing canned wine market.
- Developed three new vodka soda flavours with returning client Nova Scotia Spirit Company. Lemon Iced Tea, Cranberry-Lime and Tropical Punch were all launched in 2021-22.
- Worked with a cannabis edible startup on a beverage option. The initial formulation for two products was started at the end of 2021 and Perennia’s product development team will work with our Bloom Labs cannabis lab to ensure proper dosage per serving. Once product development is completed, Perennia will conduct stability testing, shelf-life evaluation and nutritional labelling. Production scale-up assistance will also be provided.
“Our mission when working with Perennia was to replicate our famous alcoholic Moon Mist seltzer flavour into a non-alcoholic version and also come up with a second flavour that our sober friends can enjoy in place of a soda or mocktail. Safe to say, we nailed it with the support of Perennia who advised us and helped us narrow down and select the flavorings and make sure the recipes were perfect.”
~ Amanda MacAvoy, Good Robot’s Trade Marketing Manager
Nutrition Fact Tables – Gateway to Bigger Markets
Nutrition Facts tables (NFt’s) are a small investment for the benefits offered – as a gateway to new retail markets and for consumer confidence in and understanding of a product. NFt’s are not a requirement at farm or farmers markets (although is becoming a consumer expectation) but are required when making the move to retail stores. As such, it has a direct investment to helping food and beverage companies expand their customers and markets.
- Total number done in 2021-22: 133
- Number of clients: 50 clients
- Products covered: hot sauces, BBQ sauces, curries, chutneys, jellies, jams, relish, spice blends, kombuchas, alcoholic beverages, soda waters, juices, ice cream, cookies, cakes
While NFt’s are considered a “normal” piece of food and beverage packaging to most consumers, there is a lot of background work to determine the table values. Ingredients are not the only consideration – how the product is prepared, cooked and packaged are also important, as well as lab tests and calculations. Serving sizes are regulated in Canada, along with the formatting of the NFt, font types, sizes, etc. Food labels are regulated by the federal government and a new format for Canadian NFt’s has officially been released—keep your eyes out for the new format on your favourite products.
Big Cove Foods based in Pictou County started out selling their vegetables at the local farmers market in 2012. In 2016 they built their own commercial kitchen space and began selling the spice blends you can find at many local stores and even many Sobeys locations in Nova Scotia. Perennia has been working with Big Cove Foods for years, completing their NFt’s and helping them reach new markets. This year Big Cove landed their first Canadian distributor and will be entering new retail locations in Eastern and Western Canada. Watch for these products and this company as they continue to grow into new markets.
Helping Local Cannabis get to Market with Specialized Testing
Bloom Labs is a division of Perennia that conducts analytical testing for cannabis and the only Health Canada approved testing facility in Nova Scotia. Every cannabis product headed to market in Canada needs to be tested for a mandated suite of Health Canada tests.
This year the lab made some huge strides forward:
- We were awarded Emerald Scientific Proficiency Awards for our full suite of Health Canada required microbiological testing
- The team brought on 16 new licensed producer clients
- Our microbiology team developed a weekend refrigeration method to create efficiencies in team time and risk
- A gummy method was developed by both the microbiology team and the potency method was developed by the chemistry team
- Great progress was made toward ISO 17025 certification which we are aiming to be obtained by the end of 2022
For more information visit bloomlabs.ca
Nova Scotia Buy Local Initiatives
The Buy Local initiative is a consumer awareness and marketing tool designed to raise the awareness, value, and sales of Nova Scotia’s fresh and exceptional quality agri-food, seafood and beverage products through retail, food service, marketing initiatives and partnerships.
Supporting the government’s mandate to shift local consumption to 20 per cent, the team has commenced activities to measure and track this consumer consumption growth. Working with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture, the Buy Local team is spearheading an economic modeling project to set benchmarks for current consumer spending and establishing models to track the local consumption growth.
The Buy Local team has been working closely with the Nova Scotia Loyal intergovernmental group to share best practices from two years of awareness campaigns and retail program.
The Buy Local team has worked closely in the last year with association groups within Nova Scotia to support marketing efforts and create awareness around their Nova Scotia goods. The association projects supported in 2021 and 2022 were:
- Wine Growers of Nova Scotia 2020 vintage Tidal Bay release.
- Craft Brewers of Nova Scotia digital marketing upgrade.
- Nova Scotia Cider Associations Spring Cider Route Promotion and Apple Blossom Tap Takeover.
- Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia Digital Marketing support.
- Farmers Markets of Nova Scotia Saltscapes Expo and print ads support
- Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia Savour Food and Beverage show sponsorship
- Tasting and Climate Change Conference sponsorship