• Feeding the Future: London Chamber of Commerce Farm Tour

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    November 07, 2018
    From baked goods, meat products, and frozen desserts, to spices, honey, and alcoholic beverages, London and the region’s food processing sector is full of flavour. This growing industry has established London as one of North America’s prominent hubs for food and beverage processing.
     
    Convenient access to raw materials at nearby farms, a fresh water supply, major markets, and supply chain support are among many reasons for attracting national and international agri-food companies to London, including Natra, Dr. Oetker, The Original Cakerie, Labatt Brewing Company, Nestle, and McCormick Canada.
     
    To highlight this connection between our rural and urban food economy, The London Chamber of Commerce hosted an Agri-Business Bus Tour in October to bring guests to London and area farms and food processing companies. 40 community leaders, educators, and business representatives attended to learn what impact agri-business has on our local workforce and the economy.

    Did you know?
    • Food and beverage processing is Canada’s largest manufacturing industry, with $103.4 billion in shipments
    • Canada is the world’s largest producer of canola, peas, lentils, mustard seed, and flaxseed
    • 1 in 8 jobs in Canada are in the agri-food business
    • Ontario is North America’s second largest centre for food processing
    • The agri-food industry generates more than $36 billion in annual GDP and supports 790,000 jobs in our province
    • Ontario’s goal is to create more than 100,000 jobs in agri-food by 2020, with food processing accounting for at least half that number
    • Food and beverage processing is one of London’s fastest growing sectors, with over 60 companies employing more than 7,000 people
     
    To take a closer look at our local food processing sector and its impact, the Chamber took guests on a tour to regional farms and businesses. Here’s a glance at where they stopped:

    Greenhouse Academy

    Before the tour began, guests met at the Greenhouse Academy in Thorndale, a 60,000 square foot, student-led greenhouse. This social enterprise works with students, educators, social agencies, conservation agencies, and local businesses to manage a wholesale greenhouse.
     
    Co-owners Jeff and Mike Crosby purchased the greenhouse in 2015, knowing they intended to dedicate part of the land to establish a teaching site for students. Now, the greenhouse partners with Thames Valley District School Board, bringing students between the grades of 7-10 to the greenhouse every week for an entire day, where they receive hands-on education about the environment, healthy eating, long-term planning, poverty reduction, and entrepreneurship to name a few.
     
    Stop One: Killins Custom Work
    Since 1978, family-owned and operated Killins Custom Work in Dorchester has grown to service over 90 clients with 15,000 acres of farmland. Owner John Killins originally bought the farm for $300,000 and today it is worth over $2 million, and includes sister companies Killins Marina, Killins Trucking, and Killins Farms.
     
    Planting, combining, fertilizing, and cultivating are some of many areas Killins specializes in, and to best provide these services, the company has invested around $6 million in their equipment, adding features like GPS mapping and yield monitoring guidance.
     
    Always expanding and looking to hire, Killins has partnered with Fanshawe College to leverage trained talent and provide valuable apprenticeship opportunities to automotive technicians and agricultural equipment technicians.
     
    Stop Two: London Dairy


    Operating since 2003, London Dairy caters to dairymen across Canada and parts of the United States, selling tens of thousands of cows and heifers over the years. Committed to creating a safe, clean, and healthy environment for both cows and staff, the company produces 40,000 litres of fresh milk every day, making it the largest dairy farm in Ontario, and 2nd largest in Canada. With 40 farm workers and 20 delivery drivers, their growing farm is always looking to hire skilled talent

    Stop Three: New Wave Ice Cream / London Ice Cream Company

    Founded in 1994 by Alan Sargant, New Wave Ice Cream is one of the largest independent ice cream producers in southwestern Ontario, creating products that are available coast-to-coast across Canada, under the brands London Ice Cream Company, Country Boy and many other private labels.
     
    With only one factory store, the company produces over 120 unique flavours and 700 tubs of ice cream a day to serve their customers across the country. Next time you visit a Cineplex in Canada, enjoy some made-in-London ice cream – you can find London Ice Cream Company’s product at every Cineplex in Canada.
     
    40 employees, which scales up to 100 during the busier summer seasons, are the driving force behind the company, which prides itself on making ice cream the old fashion way – hand-filled, and batch-by-batch.
     
    With unique in-house capacities such as quick freeze technology and a flavour and mix department to explore new creations, London Ice Cream Company has stayed ahead of the curve, and their innovation is paying off. The company is building a new plant at 3397 White Oak Road to accommodate their growth and make room for new team members.
     
    Harvesting Success
    Keep a pulse on London and the region’s food and beverage processing sector as it continues to be a driving force in our economy on the LEDC’s website.
     
    For more information about the Agri-Business Bus Tour or to inquire about future tours, please contact the London Chamber of Commerce.