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Ontario Invests $100,000 in Orillia for Agri-Food Innovation

Investment in research and new technologies will modernize and strengthen local food in Orillia.

NEWS RELEASE: April 6, 2022

Jill Dunlop MPP for Simcoe North announced the government of Ontario’s investment of $100,000 for local business, Leadbetter Foods Inc., through the Agri-Tech Innovation Program during a recent visit and tour of their processing plant. This is part of a $22 million province wide investment to help the agri-food sector implement new and unique ways to set businesses up for future growth and success while strengthening the food supply chain, creating safer workplaces and making operations more resilient to future disruptions.

“Agri-Food Innovation supports the modernization of workplaces by funding projects to implement advanced or innovative technology,” said Jill Dunlop, MPP Simcoe North. “This program makes it possible for leaders in technology and business, like Leadbetter Foods Inc. in Orillia, to work on priority issues such as labour productivity and develop new solutions to challenges they face.”

This investment will support the adoption of new advanced technology that improves the productivity of farmers and agri-food processing businesses, address the labour shortage, and support the long-term sustainability and growth of the sector. Locally, Leadbetter Foods Inc. will use this funding for meat processing and meat product manufacturing efficiencies.

“Adapting innovation and technology is key to the success of our agri-food sector,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “This is why we’re investing in innovations that will build a stronger, more resilient sector for years to come. From research to farm production, to food processing, adopting new technologies will help strengthen our food supply chain, create new market opportunities and strengthens the economy.”

“This innovation cost-share program supported the implementation of advanced and
innovative robotics technology, through a $100,000 grant. Leadbetter Foods will be investing $500,000 in robotic automated bacon packaging systems,” said Doug Alexander, VP Technical Services for Leadbetter Foods Inc. “Increasing our capacity significantly will drive the growth of Leadbetter bacon products and reduce COVID 19 workplace risks. This project will be implemented fall of 2022. The province’s support for Leadbetter foods ensures the continued job creation and growth of a Canadian owned meat processing company and a major industrial employer in the city of Orillia.”

Examples of projects across the province that are adopting new technology include:

  • A self-driving tractor which includes data collection, will decrease use of chemical sprays, contact between farm workers and deter from traditional methods of bird damage preventions.
  • An automated colour sorter machine for the grading and sorting of soybeans which eliminates manual processing, labour challenges and reliance on global suppliers.
  • An automated turkey packaging processor and further processing lines which will reduce employee risk of exposure to COVID-19, workplace related injuries and address shortages in meat processing sector.

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