Farms, Farming and Food

Food and Agriculture in the Maritimes, Canada and around the world

Apple season is here in NB!

  • August
  • 28

I just bought a bag of local Jersey Mac apples from Gagetown Fruit Farm via Real Food Connections.

Finally local apples are back and fall is just around the corner. The apples were a bit on the small side but still sweet and tasty!


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Dividing Kraft Foods in two

  • August
  • 5

Food giant Kraft Foods has announced that it intends to split the company into two separate listed companies. The current Kraft foods will be comprised of Kraft’s snack business which includes the Oreo, Chips Ahoy, Tang, Trident and Cadbury brands. The other company which will be spun-off will be focused on the North American grocery market and will include Velveeta and Kraft cheese, Oscar Mayer, Philadelphia Cream Cheese,  Jell-O, Miracle Whip, Maxwell House coffee and Capri Sun drinks.

The snacks business would have 2/3 of revenues ($32 billion out of Kraft’s current $48 billion) and is the largest company in the global candy and gum market with a near 15% share. The grocery business would have the other third ($16 billion) of Kraft’s current revenue and has an established well known brands in the North American market.

Why Split?

The two new parts of Kraft currently have different focus, characteristics, opportunity and challenges that this break-up will accentuate.

Kraft’s snack business has a global reach and a particular focus on the opportunity for high growth in developing countries. Meanwhile, the new grocery business is a more mature market and has a tighter geographical focus but due to its maturity has reliable sales and can likely offer an attractive dividend to investors.

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The Last Apple Orchard in Mercer Maine

  • December
  • 22

Interview with Francis Fenton who at 95 is the owner and still actively manages Sandy River Apple Orchard which is the last apple orchard in Mercer, Maine.

He discusses the uncertainty of the future of the farm and how family farms in the area have been disappearing over the last few decades.

Mercer’s Last Apple Orchard Faces Uncertain Future.

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Attracting New Farmers to the Maritimes

  • October
  • 26

With the decline in the number of farm and farmers in the Maritimes, it is important to keep farms profitable and sustainable. In order to keep the sector vibrant, it is also important to attract new farmers to the profession including the next generation of current farmers as well as any others who might be interested in farming.

One approach that has not been targeted in the recent past has been attraction of immigrant farmers. Nova Scotia recently released a new program designed attract new farmers to Nova Scotia.

There isn’t a lot of details about the program but the aim is to attract and help people to immigrate in order to set up sustainable farms in the province.

This is a great idea in that there is a lot of great fertile land available to be cultivated but without the people willing to farm it, this prime agricultural land often lays fallow or underutilized. New immigrants bring with them ideas, innovations and expertise which can inject new vitality into the agricultural sector.

I hope that other Maritime provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island develop their own similar programs to attract new farmers to the area.

See also:

Update: Apparently the program has some detractors.

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Will bees become an endangered species?

  • May
  • 6

It appears that bee populations are dwindling and people are starting to become concerned at the scale of the bee catastrophe.

Many scientists and bee keepers have many theories of what might be causing the decline. These theories range from weather and climate change to pesticide use and over-use to disease, viruses and parasites. None of these theories have been proved conclusively. Perhaps the collapse in bee populations is due to a combination of the above factors.

Regardless of the causes of the collapse, the impact is huge as bees are relied on extensively for pollination of crops such as almonds, strawberries, blueberries and apples. There are estimates that pollination produces $40 billion worth of goods in the US. A reduction in the effectiveness could have a large impact in the amount and quality of food produced and made available to consumers. In some worst case scenarios, the entire food chain could be severely impacted as crops are no longer

I certainly hope that scientists can quickly determine what is causing this bee population collapse so that we can try to slow the losses and protect these valuable and often underrated insects.

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Quality Feed = Quality Milk

  • April
  • 21

Fredericton Junction based Atlantic Dairy and Forage Institute is looking to undergo a $8.5 million expansion in part to research how to improve the quality of milk.

The Institute hopes to examine how the quality of feed impacts the quality of milk which is produced by cows. By determining how the quality of the feed impacts the resulting milk, it may be possible to adjust feed to get milk with desirable characteristics such as lower amounts of saturated fats or omega-3 fatty acids.

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Kraft to reduce sodium in foods

  • April
  • 12

In an encouraging move, the world second largest food and beverage producer Kraft (second only to Nestle) has announced a plan to reduce the amount of sodium in its products by 10%.

There has long been evidence linking high sodium intake with high blood pressure and associated heard diseases but reducing the amount of salt in foods has been a long standing challenge. This is especially true in Canada where a recent study has shown that packaged foods are much saltier than elsewhere in the world.

Hopefully by following the lead of Campbell Soup and now Kraft, food producers will try to reduce their product’s sodium levels and make their products as well as their customers healthier in the process.

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New Cheese Plant in New Brunswick

  • March
  • 5

Backed by private investors, a company called Cheese New Brunswick have announced that they will be opening a new cheese plant near Sussex, New Brunswick. The facility will create a new hard cheese similar to the popular Reggiano-Parmiagiano cheese from Italy.

Due to cheese labelling restrictions, the cheese cannot be called Reggiano-Parmiagiano unless it comes from a very specific region of Italy but it doesn’t prevent Cheese NB to create a very similar cheese under a different name which has not yet been revealed.

The $10 million plant which is scheduled to commence construction within 6 months, with completion in a year in a half. Due to the time required to age the cheese, it is expected that cheese will not be available on retail shelves for 3 years or so. Cheese New Brunswick has already secured a sufficient milk quota to create the volume of cheese that it expects.

Under optimistic scenario of maximum capacity a maximum of 40 employees will be needed for the Cheese New Brunswick operation.

Overall this is great news for the Sussex area and the agricultural community in New Brunswick. Any operation that uses local agricultural products and hires local people is a positive development. I’m looking forward to tasting this new cheese. I just wish that I didn’t have to wait for three years.

More info:

Cheese New Brunswick

CBC Information Morning Saint John interview with Cheese NB investor Mario Ruffalo

CBC News – New Brunswick – Cheese N.B. plans $10M facility.

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Open Farm Day 2009

  • September
  • 20

Open Farm Day NB 2009 is set for September 20th.

As in previous years, the New Brunswick Dept of Agriculture, the Agricultural Alliance of NB along with Sobey’s present Open Farm Day 2009. This event, scheduled to take place September 20th, 2009, allows the general public to visit participating farms across the province.

There are several farms showcasing various forms of agriculture throughout the province. Participants range from U-Pick apple orchards such as Everett Farms near Fredericton to dairy and cattle farms such as Riordon Farms in the Acadian Peninsula and from wineries such as Magnetic Hills Winery just outside of Moncton to beekeeping/honey production at Miel-N-Bee Honey in Charlo.

See for more details.

See also : Open Farm Day 2008 and Open Farm Day 2007

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Nadeau Poultry Farm to lay off 175 workers in Edmunston, NB

  • September
  • 1

Nadeau Poultry Farm a large chicken processor located in northern New Brunswick, has announced a layoff of 175 workers which is approximately half of its staff. The managers of the plant state that the staff reduction is caused by a lack of a supply of chickens to process after its prime chicken supplier and soon to be competitor Westco diverted a large amount of chickens to an Olymel plant in Quebec.

The poultry processing company has been in a long running dispute with competitor Westco over the supply and processing of chickens in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Westco and Olymel have teamed up and are planning to build their own slaughterhouse facility in Northern NB in the near future.

Nadeau is still hoping to get the New Brunswick government to pass a law which prohibits export of chickens for processing. I personally don’t see the provincial government to pass such a bill at a time where it is trying to open up trade borders with its neighbour Quebec.

Update: Nadeau employees have tried unsuccessfully to block shipments of chickens to Quebec.

It appears that there are still talks to try to resolve the situation according to the premier.

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