An Appetite for Research
One only needs to walk into any grocery, gas station, convenience or department store to know that the snack food industry in Canada is huge. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, the snack food industry was worth $981.4 million dollars in retail sales in 2004. Juxtaposed with the girth of the snack food industry is the alarming rate of obesity and other health issues due to overconsumption of foods high in salt, fat and sugar - the very nature of most commercial snack foods. This is of significant concern when it comes to children.
Lean Machine Inc. is a full service vending operation based in Atlantic Canada whose focus is to provide nutritional snacks and beverages that not only taste great, they also have to pass registered dietitian approval. When Lean Machine decided they wanted to develop their own line of snack foods that met the Maximum Nutrition criteria for sale in schools across Canada, they knew they needed sound R&D help. That’s when Phyllis Duffy, Holland College’s Industry Liaison Officer and Springboard network member, got involved.
With an extensive background in the food production industry, Duffy’s first step was to introduce Lean Machine to Canada’s Smartest Kitchen at Holland College. Offering a full range of culinary services that combine master chef-expertise with product development research and technology, Duffy was confident that collaboration with Canada’s Smartest Kitchen would bring Lean Machine the assistance they needed to grow their company.
“From the very beginning, the relationship with Holland College’s Industry Liaison Office has been instrumental to the success of this entire venture,” says Lean Machine CEO, April Glavine. “They partnered with us on the submission of a PEI Discovery and Development Fund proposal as well as providing invaluable expertise throughout the whole product development process on food science, licensing, suppliers and market testing. Their passion, knowledge and ability to respond quickly to our needs made this an entirely positive experience for our company.”
As a result, the partnership between Canada’s Smartest Kitchen and Lean Machine developed four high quality new snack foods that focus on healthy levels of fiber and protein while maintaining low levels of fat, sodium and sugar. Currently the project is in scale-up mode with commercialization soon to follow.
“It has been really rewarding to help facilitate the relationship between Canada’s Smartest Kitchen and Lean Machine in a way that drew out the best of both parties,” says Duffy. “My Springboard training equipped me with the skills to lead the process and it’s exciting to see the results so far and what the future holds for this partnership.”