Conestoga news

April 7, 2024 9:43 PM

CFRIL awarded $25,000 grant to study sustainability in bakeries

The Conestoga Food Research & Innovation Lab (CFRIL) received a grant worth $25,000 from Dawn Foods for research on sustainability ideas for bakeries.

Dawn Foods tour.jpg
Representatives of Dawn Foods toured the Waterloo campus after the company donated $25,000 to the Conestoga Food Research & Innovation Lab (CFRIL).

Conestoga is one of the first Canadian recipients of the award from the corporate giving program of the international bakery ingredient manufacturer and distributor.

“We are proud to invest in the communities where we have facilities and offices by offering our time, talent, and financial resources. We're focused on making a positive impact in three key areas: hunger prevention and health, education, and community vibrancy,” said Ken Weir, director of marketing for Canada. “Supporting the educational aspect is very important. We’re looking at young, up and coming culinary and baking students and helping them with their journey from start to finish.”

The grant is going to CFRIL for an applied research project to support the bakery industry's understanding of sustainability in light of new federal legislation that will prohibit single-use plastics and a provincial initiative that will shift responsibility for blue box programs from municipalities to producers.

These changes are prompting many companies to look for solutions to improve packaging sustainability, and that’s where CFRIL will come in to research areas including ingredient, packaging and processing sustainability. Ideas could include alternative packaging materials, including technical aspects such as barrier properties.

Student researchers will lead the project, giving them the opportunity to develop research and dissemination skills. Testing of different sustainable processes, ingredients or packaging may be conducted by the student researchers.

“The CFRIL team is very excited to partner with Dawn Foods to support the bakery industry with a focus on sustainability,” said Nicole Detlor, lab director. “This is an incredible opportunity for a research student to learn about the bakery industry, sustainability and communication.”

Hiring for the student research is underway for the project, which will kick off in May and wrap up with an event in the fall where the research results will be shared and bakery owners will be invited to attend.

“The initiatives that you have here, sustainability included, is important to Dawn as well, as we are one of the leaders in the baking industry. It’s about giving back in many respects,” Weir said.

Weir and two others from Dawn Foods toured the culinary labs at the Waterloo campus, stopping for lunch at the student-run Bloom restaurant before heading to the Cambridge - Fountain Street campus where CFRIL is located.

Weir was impressed by the thoughtful design and layout of the culinary labs at the Waterloo campus, including the new charcuterie program space. 

“I think it’s certainly very impressive, just from the magnitude and scope of how everything is laid out,” Weir said.

This research will kick off more collaborations with the college, Weir said. “We’re looking to do many more things with Conestoga.”

The Dawn grant will be very beneficial for the students to become familiar with their products, Keith Müller, dean of the School of Hospitality, Culinary Arts & Food Processing Technology.

“Introducing baking and culinary professional of the future to companies like Dawn gives student an opportunity to work with and evaluate products before they would get to use it in their own workplace,” he said. “Quality and sustainable products are foremost on the minds of most bakers when creating items. It gives them the edge over their competitors.”

The Conestoga Food Research & Innovation Lab meets the needs of industry through education, training, research and technical expertise. Its advanced facilities are essential in providing solutions for small, medium, and large businesses in the food and culinary sector. The focus is to work with partners to provide innovative solutions and support throughout the product development cycle, including formula development, shelf-life studies, packaging testing, and scale-up using pilot plant equipment.

In 2023, CFRIL was awarded the Minister's Award of Excellence and the Excellence in Research and Innovation award from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.