Erie Innovation and Commercialization: Growing Access to the Broader Public Sector Marketplace, Simcoe $40,450
As an operating group under the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Erie Innovation helped broader public sector institutions in the South Central Ontario Region (SCOR) increase their Ontario food purchases. A phone and online survey of 85 BPS institutions led Erie Innovation to conclude that focus should be on long-term care facilities, which have an annual estimated food spend of $13.1 million. Erie Innovation identified that a local food hub would better enable aggregation of locally grown products to serve BPS institutions in the SCOR. A business plan for the hub was developed, which included market opportunities and an assessment of different approaches for procurement and distribution.
Creating a Regional Distribution Hub, Ottawa $54,847
Just Food Ottawa initiated a long-term plan to develop a food hub by building by-ins of key stakeholders in the BPS foodservice value chain. The results of a survey administered by Just Food to more than 1,200 farmers and buyers, as well as face-to-face meetings and background research will aid in developing the logistics of the centralized local food hub.
More Ontario Food for Grey Bruce Public Institutions, Owen Sound $36,150
Grey Bruce Public Health and Foodlink Grey Bruce assessed the foodservice departments in their partner institutions, including local school boards and long-term care facilities. The assessment identified many misconceptions, including the belief that local food is costly, more work, not readily available, and requires burdensome inspections. Identifying these barriers assisted Grey Bruce Public Health and Foodlink Grey Bruce in dispelling some of the myths about local food as well as linking the increasing interest in healthy eating to fresh, local food. A tool was also developed to aid partner institutions in tracking local food purchases.
Going Local, Toronto $65,000
Aramark developed and provided Ontario employees with a Purchasing Guide to Buying Locally and Sustainably, which explained how to track local food, convert non-local to local, revamp menus to focus on local ingredients, and promote local sources. Farm tours and the creation of 30 farm profiles helped strengthen the relationship between Aramark’s chefs and producers. Aramark increased the visibility of local food and educated the public on the benefits of buying local by holding a series of promotional campaigns and local food day events at universities, colleges, and other public institutions. Other activities included a “building a better lasagna” campaign, recipe development, staff training, creating RFPs with local food emphasis, and the flagging of local products in their purchasing system for easy identification.
Diversity in Local Food Options for Public Institutions, Vineland Station $14,946
Vineland Research and Innovation Centre have been working hard to bring ethnocultural vegetables to consumers via retail stores and expected to see that expanded to broader public sector institutions. Following the completion of interviews with BPS institutions, Vineland found similar criterion for buyers purchasing ethnocultural vegetables and non-ethnocultural vegetables, with quality, consistency, availability, and food safety all listed as important factors. The research also concluded that BPS institutions want to stay relevant to customers and must continue adapting their offerings as immigration patterns change. The evolving demographic bodes well for future demand on ethnocultural vegetables. Vineland’s ongoing plans include using their research to assess potential market size for ethnocultural vegetables, identifying market barriers, and raising the visibility of ethnocultural vegetables.
Local Food for Students, Waterloo $40,000
During this project, the University of Waterloo Foodservices took effective measures towards increasing the use of local food on campus. A buy local policy for the UW Foodservice Strategic Plan was implemented and RFPs for identified key Ontario foods were issued to new and existing suppliers. Campus chefs and other internal staff were outfitted with a local food “toolkit” highlighting relevant websites such as Ontariofresh.ca. UWFS initiated a marketing campaign to raise local food awareness including promoting revised campus menus. Preserving seasonal produce and other ways to heighten local food visibility on campus past the project end date were being explored at the time of the project.
More Ontario Food for Patients, Toronto $55,000
St. Michael’s Hospital’s revamp of their local food offerings to patients, staff, and visitors demonstrates that buying fresh local products is both financially and logistically realistic for large institutions. Twelve locally infused recipes were added to patient menus and many produce items were switched to fresh Ontario fruits and vegetables. The kitchen at St. Michael’s, though outsourced, was on board with the changes and introduced 56 seasonally focused recipes, a salad bar with Ontario produce, and daily baking featuring local ingredients. St. Michael’s implemented a tracking system to easily identify local food, noting that 50 percent of the newly introduced Ontario products were less expensive than the previously purchased imported items. At the time of this project, Ontario purchases represented 16 percent of St. Michael’s total spend and a procurement program was implemented to increase this number.
A New Model for Local Food Distribution, Barrie $30,262
Simcoe County Farm Fresh Marketing Association (SCFFMA) is eliminating barriers to bringing local food to broader public sector institutions in the county. Identifying the need for a better understanding of local food distribution, SCFFMA surveyed 64 stakeholders across the value chain and presented the results and their recommendations to BPS institutions, food producers, processors, and distributors. SCFFMA noted that a centralized food hub, a shift in perception away from local food as costly and not available year-round, and a vocalized demand for local food from BPS institutions in Simcoe County would be beneficial to bringing Ontario products to the area. At the time of this project, SCFFMA began addressing these areas of interest and are implementing their new strategy to increase BPS purchases of Ontario food.
Creating a New Food Culture, Scarborough $191,000
Understanding fresh local food as a key component in a patient’s health and recovery, Scarborough Hospital worked diligently to bring high-quality local products to their facility. An overhaul of weekly patient menus, new training for staff, upgraded kitchen equipment, updated procurement processes calling for additional local food purchasing, and forging of new relationships with local food producers and distributors are examples of how Scarborough took great strides towards achieving their vision of fresh local food throughout the hospital. Brand awareness was increased through an extensive communications roll out using social and traditional media, resulting in several high profile media stories.
Growing the Value of Ontario Protein in Public Institutions, Guelph $80,180
The Ontario Independent Meat Processors worked collaboratively to increase purchases of locally produced meats by major volume buyers. Qualitative research conducted by George Morris Centre and fsStrategy was pivotal in outlining the necessary steps to increase Ontario protein sales within the broader public sector, as well as the products that held the greatest potential for increased sales. A resounding need for an umbrella program geared towards marketing Ontario proteins across species as well as the outlining of the added value of Ontario proteins was echoed throughout the project by foodservice operators and distributors.