Puree processor gets GF2 funds for expansion

A Portage la Prairie food processor that converts culled vegetables into nutritional purees has received $582,000 from the federal-provincial Growing Value program to increase its capacity.

Canadian Prairie Garden Puree Products has acquired new equipment and modified its existing operation in order to cook more types of fruits, vegetables and pulse crops like chickpeas, navy beans and lentils, then rapidly chill and package the pureed products into sterile pouches.

CPG is billed as the only company in the world with this technology, which is considered more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than traditional processing methods. The technology is also meant to ensure the purees retain better colour, flavour, texture and nutritional benefits without any preservatives or additives.

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The funds were announced by federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay and his Manitoba counterpart Ron Kostyshyn on Thursday.

The company’s expansion allows it to buy millions of tonnes of culled vegetables that might otherwise be sent to a landfill or sold at a lower price for animal feed. In five years, the company plans to expand to nearly 60 employees from its current nine.

CPG, located at the Food Development Centre in Portage la Prairie, has received several awards in 2015 for its products including for Best New Product at the Manitoba Food Processors Association’s awards and a “NEXTY” award at the Natural Products Expo West in California.

The purees can be sold to other food manufacturers and other food service customers.

The company’s unique process allows purees to be stored at room temperature for up to two years. The sterile packaging system also uses 30 per cent less water and energy than other processes currently in use in the industry.

The Growing Value money, flowing through the federal/provincial Growing Forward 2 (GF2) ag policy funding framework, represents 50 per cent of the cost of the new equipment.

Growing Value, part of the federal/provincial Growing Forward 2 ag policy funding framework, is meant to provide financial assistance to agribusinesses to “make changes to adapt to market forces and environmental considerations” or to “increase their ability to compete in domestic and international markets.”

Covered projects can include “value-added processing productivity improvements and related equipment purchases” as well as “adoption of environmental sustainability practices.”

“This funding is critical to the success of small businesses like ours. My partners, Harvey and Martin Pollock, and I are very grateful to receive it and will put it to work, growing and expanding our young business,”said Kelly Beaulieu, chief operating officer and owner, in a release. –– Manitoba Co-operator staff

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