From Farm to Table: Top Western Canadian Food Processor Grants
It’s no secret that Canadians love food. In Western Canada, we have a plethora of agriculture support systems to help food processors continue to operate and do what they do best. Through our connections at Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC (IAFBC) and close monitoring of the landscape, we have come to know the ins and outs of a multitude of Canadian food processor grants. If you have a great business with great food, there are many ways to get you funded on various levels. Whether you are looking for support in hiring, training, research and development, market expansion, or if you’re simply looking for some breathing space, we are here to help. Here are some of the top food processor grants that businesses in Western Canada can apply for.
Note: The deadlines of these grants can change at any time depending on the number of applications they receive.
Some Considerations Before You Apply
We’ve previously written about some key considerations before applying. Read more here.
British Columbia Basin Trust – Career Internship Program
Looking to expand your team? Perhaps your business could use some fresh insights from a recent university or college graduate. If your food processing organisation is in the B.C. Basin Trust Region, then you could qualify for the British Columbia Basin Trust Career Internship Program. This program offers a wage subsidy of up to $25,000 in matching funds to hire recent post-secondary graduates for a full-time placement of 7-12 months. With thousands of recent graduates in B.C. looking for work, now is the perfect time to apply.
Career Starter Program
One of the best things any business can do to improve its performance is to have an inclusive work culture. The Career Starter Program is a great way to adopt or enhance an inclusive and diverse work culture as well as give valuable work experience to marginalised youth looking to delve into the bio-technology sector. This program provides up to $20,000 in matching funds to hire barriered youth such as LGBTQ2+, Indigenous peoples, or those with disabilities. For this program, the position needs to be related to bio-technology in some shape or form, such as a food scientist. Apply now if you’re a food processor looking to hire for a temporary position in bio-technology.
BC Employer Training Grant (ETG)
Traditionally, training grants have been hard to come by for food processors. Luckily here at Granted, we are seeing a surge of opportunities to fund training in Canada. The most popular training program among our food processor clients is actually open to all industries in British Columbia. The BC Employer Training Grant (ETG) subsidises up to 100% of training costs (from public and private institutions) to a maximum of $20,000 per participant per year. Some examples of training that food processors can apply for include First Aid, FoodSafe, and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). ETG is ideal for improving a food processor’s daily operations—just be cognisant of the fact that applications must be submitted before training can begin! This grant accepts applicants on a rolling basis, so get your application in as soon as you can.
B.C. AgriBusiness Specialized Business Planning
Food and beverage processors in B.C. produce around $9 billion worth of food per year, but producing and processing great food is nothing without a solid business plan to ensure people are actually eating it. With the B.C. AgriBusiness Specialized Business Planning program, eligible agrifood industries can receive qualified business planning support to help improve their success. This program provides up to $5,000 in specialized business planning and coaching per person and up to $20,000 for groups. However, each eligible organisation may only apply for up to $10,000 per fiscal year. Eligible costs that are covered by this program include qualified coaching for business structures, production economics, business strategy, cash flow, and much more. These training opportunities have been immensely helpful for many food processors in B.C. that are looking to gain some more expertise in planning their business strategies. All projects started after April 30, 2020 must be completed by February 15, 2021, so act fast if you’re interested.
B.C. AgriBusiness Recovery Planning
Food processors have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and coming up with a recovery plan can be an intimidating task. Thanks to the B.C. AgriBusiness Recovery Planning program, eligible producers and processors can receive support for COVID-related business planning. This program is similar to the B.C. AgriBusiness Specialized Business Planning program in that it offers up to $10,000 per fiscal year to cover costs regarding business coaching, but the Recovery Planning program focuses specifically on businesses planning to address the setbacks brought upon by the pandemic. For producers and food processors that have been blindsided by COVID-19 and need some extra help to recover their business, now is the time to apply. Just be aware that, like the Specialized Business Planning program, all projects started after April 30, 2020 need to be completed by February 15, 2021.
Research & Development
There are several concerns to consider when it comes to commercialising your business. Fortunately, Canada has programs like AgriScience, which supports companies going to market. In this case, the AgriScience Program subsidizes research and scientific projects at the pre-commercialisation stage to mitigate the risks associated with a market launch. Eligible not-for-profit organisations can have up to 70% of their project costs covered, and for-profit organisations can have up to 50% of costs covered. Both not-for-profits and for-profits can receive up to $5 million over five years per pre-commercialisation project. If you’re in the agrifood sector and looking for help with the various aspects of the pre-commercialisation phase, this program is a great way to prepare your product or service for a competitive market. This program is experiencing high demand, so make sure you have all your ducks in a row before you apply.
Mitacs Accelerate Program
Wouldn’t it be neat to hire a post-secondary student to conduct a research project for your food processing business? Maybe they could develop solutions for safer harvesting practices on steep terrain or they could research how to add value to Canola Oilseed production. If this sounds enticing, then do we have a grant for you. The Mitacs Accelerate Program provides up to $7,500 in matching funds to hire a college or university student in Canada to conduct a research project to address the needs of your business. Getting new and original insights from a post-secondary student is a great way to grow your food processing business (or businesses in a variety of other industries). You can apply at any time, but funding does depend on the type of project you intend to develop, so if you’re not sure about if or how your organisation would qualify then get in touch with us here at Granted and we’ll help you through the process.
Youth Employment Program (NRC IRAP)
Is your food processing business undergoing an R&D project? Maybe you have a project or process in mind but need help developing it. The Youth Employment Program, delivered through The National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP), offers up to $30,000 to hire post-secondary graduates to advance research and development, conduct market analyses, develop new products and processes, and many other projects that can bring valuable assets to your business. Before you apply, make sure you have a strong and coherent proposal for the position you would like to hire for, as the application process is heavily dependent on the quality of your pitch.
AgriAssurance: Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Component
One of the biggest challenges faced by small and medium-sized businesses in the food processing industry is taking the necessary steps to export to international markets. If you have an agriculture, agrifood, or seafood business in Canada and are looking to obtain certification to meet international market requirements, AgriAssurance is the grant for you. This is a federal program that provides up to $50,000 to cover up to 50% of costs relating to obtaining a third-party certification for international export. This program covers several activities aimed at obtaining international market certification, which includes contracting professional services, hiring employees, and travelling. For those food processors ready to take the plunge into international markets, now is the time to apply! Applications are open until September 30, 2022 and project activities must be completed on or before March 31, 2023.
B.C. Agrifood and Seafood Market Development Program (BCASMD)
As an agrifood or seafood business in British Columbia, expanding outside of B.C. can be a daunting task. Enter the B.C. Agrifood and Seafood Market Development Program (BCASMD). This program provides up to $75,000 per year to cover costs associated with pursuing market development opportunities outside of B.C. Some supports that can be acquired through this program include marketing skills training, market research, market development planning, and other marketing activities that fall outside of the province. A couple of companies we recommend you work with for market development activities are LBN Brand Management Inc., Fluid Creative, or Good to Grow. Program application forms become available October 1st for projects starting April 1st the following year.
We often find that businesses are unaware of the benefits that come with market expansion grants. Did you know grants like CanExport can cover travel expenses, tradeshow and conferences, interpretation and translation services, marketing tools, advisory and consulting services, and even intellectual property contracts? As one of our most popular grants, CanExport offers small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Canada up to $100,000 per year ($75,000 per project) to facilitate expansion efforts into foreign markets. In terms of companies that can help market your business abroad, we recommend working with Jelly, Lux Insights, Marwick, or RTOWN. Also, if you want to market your food processing organisation through video, we’d recommend working with Wakefield or Bemoved Media. If you’re interested in applying for this grant, get cracking! Applications are assessed on a first-come, first serve basis.
Dairy Processing Investment Fund
The Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) introduced a profusion of market changes in 2017, particularly for the dairy sector. To help dairy processing businesses navigate through these market changes brought upon by CETA, the Dairy Processing Investment Fund was created. This program provides up to $10 million to fund Capital Investment projects (e.g. construction, improving manufacturing technologies, engaging with external consultants, etc.) and up to $250,000 for Access to Expertise projects (e.g. business improvement, market development, collaborative research, etc.). Project activities must be completed on or before March 31, 2021, so apply sooner than later!
Free money is great, but sometimes it’s not enough to meet an organisation’s needs, especially during these challenging times. That is why we have scouted out some loans to help struggling food processors sustain their practices and make improvements that will go beyond COVID-19.
Emergency Processing Fund (EPF)
Need some extra funds to adapt to a post-pandemic market? The Emergency Processing Fund (EPF) provides between $100,000 and $5 million in repayable loans to agrifood businesses so that they can improve, automate, and modernize the facilities required to increase Canada’s food supply capacity. These interest-free loans can be repaid over a period of up to 10 years with repayments typically starting one year after the completion of a project. Applications for loans under $100,000 are now closed in BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, but if your business is in Manitoba you still have time to apply until July 31, 2020. Otherwise, all applications for loans over $100,000 are being accepted until July 31, 2020, so make sure to get applying ASAP.
Farm Credit Canada (FCC)
If you own a farm or food processing plant based in Canada and need some extra funds for the short-term, Farm Credit Canada (FCC) can help by lending you the money. FCC offers loans to food processors that have a valuable connection to agriculture. The process for acquiring a loan through FCC differs depending on a number of different factors including net-worth, current income, how much you intend to spend, and what the loan will actually be used for. As always, drop us a line here at Granted and we’ll be more than happy to help you through the process.
The list discussed here features some of the top food processor grants and loans we help out with here at Granted, but it’s by no means an exhaustive list. If you feel that your food processing business has fallen through the cracks or if this all seems a bit overwhelming, have no fear! Our grant consultants are here to help guide you through every step of your grant application process. Reach out to us today!