May 31, 2017

Will Canada’s new innovation policy help reverse our $5 billion food processing net trade imbalance? (draft for comment)

“Food processing is the largest manufacturing sector with over 290,000 employees, but it has been recording record trade deficits for more than two decades. Despite low interest rates most companies are still operating in outdated plants and are in dire need of renovations. While distributors have invested more than 5 billion in food stores and logistics, capital investment in food processing has been dismal and declining for more than a decade.” (Waterloo Region Record)

Ottawa, ON...CATAAlliance (, Canada’s One Voice for Innovation Lobby Group, has called on the federal government to lead and support an Advanced Technology for Food Manufacturing (ATFM) program, as an integral part of building Canada as a global centre for innovation.

The ATFM proposal responds to Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development call for recommendations to establish Canada as a top ranking competitive innovation nation and the recent Canadian federal ‘innovation’ budget.

” Research has clearly indicated productivity drives economic progress and growth. Technology drives productivity. As a result, technology supports economic progress and growth ” observes CATA CEO, John Reid, adding “ The food processing sector has been suffering from lagging productivity for many years and now shows a net trade balance of negative $5 billion.”

Reid continues, ” To help address this unacceptable metric, Canada’s new innovation strategy should embrace solutions to facilitate the identification of food company projects with significant productivity savings and connect the food company to tech integrators and fabricators who can develop technology solutions that allow the food company to realize the improvements. Commercialization by tech integrators and fabricators will create a tech equipment for food industry.”

Canada currently has less than one percent of the $100 plus billion tech for food equipment market.

ATFM Distinguishing Features 

  • Focus on Business-to-Business solutions.
  • Commercialization of solutions being a critical success metric.
  • Initiative is sustainable over the mid term.
  • Create a Board of Directors of representatives from the food and beverage industry and representatives from the technology integrator/equipment fabricator sectors and supported by the academic and research community.
  • The food processor receives a working commissioned prototype with a two year warranty for covering 50 percent of the project

The ATFM objectives to include:

  1. Identifying and supporting the technology needs and opportunities of food manufacturers;
  2. Researching Global Best Practices – to answer key questions about how Canada’s efforts compare to identified global best practices;
  3. Working with food companies to identify and define their processing projects that lead to productivity improvements;
  4. Identifying Canadian tech integrators and equipment fabricators who are interested in working one-on-one with food companies and who are willing to participate in high value projects. In exchange for their participation the high tech companies will have the commercialization rights and intellectual property rights resulting from the project;
  5. Identifying funding sources for the corporation and for projects; and,
  6. Providing project management services for the individual projects.

Positive Outcome & Benefits

  • Food manufacturing innovative productivity enhancements and boosted competitiveness;
  • Innovation within the domestic food and beverage, technology innovation and equipment fabricator sectors;
  • Improved competitiveness for the food sector in domestic markets;
  • Enhanced exports of value added food products ;
  • New export opportunities for tech integrators and equipment fabricators;
  • Shift from unskilled to skilled labour within the food and beverage manufacturing sector;
  • Skilled job growth within the tech integrator and equipment fabricator sectors;
  • Support for knowledge intensive job growth and retention, and new economic activity Canada’s agriculture and food sectors; and,
  • Increased government tax revenue due to increased economic activity in the sector

Findings and methodology were validated through an interview process with 200 plus executives in the private sector, as well 50 plus Academic Institutions. Among other key areas, interviews focused on understanding small to mid sized attitudes toward technology adoption, as well as gaining best practice transition to technology through CEO meetings with Auto companies and Parts businesses. Read Position Paper with Full Background Details: Password Access.

Why It Matters!

videoVideo, W.E.(Ted) McKechnie
Chairman / CEO,
The Davies Group,
William Davies Consulting Inc. ,
Advanced Technology For Food Manufacturing  CATA Innovation Leadership Council

McKechnie concluded, “Advanced technology for food manufacturing represents an industry with significant economic potential and a new sphere of opportunities for new innovative non existent technologies and solutions. By working together through an ATFM program, public and private sectors can step by step one by one create innovative technology for companies with answers to the challenges facing our food and beverage processing industry today and into the future.”

actnownowMobilization & Engagement
Executives interest in collaborating with CATAAlliance to mobilize support for the Advanced Technology for Food Manufacturing (ATFM) program, should contact CATA at

Please socialize this communique to your network of social and business contacts, including media.

cataimage-150x150About CATAAlliance

Interact with your Innovation Peer Group Now

The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATAAlliance) is Canada’s One Voice for Innovation Lobby Group, crowdsourcing ideas and guidance from thousands of opt in members in moderated social networks in Canada and key global markets. (No Tech Firm Left Behind)

Contact: CATAAlliance CEO, John Reid at email, tel: 613-699-8209, website:, tags: Innovation. Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Advocacy