Conestoga news

October 7, 2015 9:41 AM

Tours offer behind-the-scenes look at unique facility

The Craig Richardson Institute of Food Processing Technology (IFPT) welcomed the return of its Food Tech Tuesday tours on September 15. The tours provide prospective students and interested members of the public with an opportunity to learn more about Conestoga’s food processing training centre, programs offered and potential careers in the industry. 

IFPT enivronmental monitoring course.jpg
Conestoga recently partnered with Mérieux NutriSciences to deliver a new part-time course on environmental monitoring and aseptic techniques.

The IFPT, located at Conestoga’s Cambridge (Fountain St.) campus, is the only facility of its kind in Canada. It features an 8,000 sq. ft. plant with processing lines for beverages, baked goods and vegetables, as well as a food testing laboratory. The facility opened in November 2012 to meet workforce demands. Ontario is home to more than 3,000 food and beverage processing businesses, making it one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the province.

This September, the institute welcomed almost 60 new full-time students enrolled in three programs: Food Safety and Quality Assurance, Food Processing Technician and Packaging Engineering Technician. Nearly 30 apprentices are also enrolled in the Process Operator - Food Manufacturing program.

The Packaging Engineering Technician program is new, having just launched this September. It was developed after local companies reported a lack of candidates with the required skillset. Students in the program develop the knowledge to design and evaluate packaging from a variety of materials, including metal, glass, paper and plastic.

Luis Garcia, chair of the IFPT, expects enrolment numbers will continue to increase as prospective students realize the numerous job opportunities in the food processing industry. Over the next three to five years attrition rates in the industry are expected to be very high due to retirements. The IFPT promotes its programs through high schools and may look to broaden its demographics by marketing to individuals transitioning into a second career.

In addition to its full-time programs, the IFPT also offers part-time courses. On September 28 and 29, it partnered with Mérieux NutriSciences to deliver a new course on environmental monitoring and aseptic techniques. Content provided industry managers from companies throughout Canada and the U.S. with hands-on knowledge in the development of programs to prevent contamination and outbreaks. 

The next Food Tech Tuesday tour will take place on October 20, 2015 starting at 6:30 p.m. at 850 Fountain St. S. Following that, tours are scheduled for the third Tuesday of each month. There is no cost for participation, and free parking is available. To register, contact Snezana Savic at 519-748-5220 ext. 2499.

More information on the Craig Richardson Institute of Food Processing Technology is available through its website