Always Fresh Never Frozen Spuds
When Michael Campbell, president of Humber Valley Potato Company sought to find a new agrifoods product, he turned to the Office of Applied Research at the College of the North Atlantic. With the assistance of Sharon McLennon, Industry Liaison Officer at the Office of Applied Research, Campbell was able to team up with the Centre for Agrifood Development. This collaboration brought about the right amount of expertise, and innovative personnel to bring Humber Valley’s Fresh Fry™ to life.
Humber Valley Potato Company’s goal was to extend their French fries shelf-life without having to freeze them. With a movement in the agrifoods market of consumers demanding convenient but, also fresh food options it dawned on Humber Valley to find a way to package their French fries so that they don’t have to be frozen, and keep their fresh taste.
Team members of the Centre for Agrifood Development, Leona Raymond and Cindy Morrissey were able to develop a Modified Atmospheric Packaging (MAP) process. The process involves vacuum sealing the French fries without freezing the potato or adding preservatives, thus Humber Valley’s Fresh Fry™ was created. This new packaging process extended the shelf life of Humber Valley’s French fries up to four weeks longer than similar French fry products in the marketplace.
This new packaging process, developed in partnership with the College of the North Atlantic’s Office of Applied Research is being implemented as a core process at the company’s new production facilities in Deer Lake, Newfoundland and Labrador. Regarding the success of their partnership with the OAR, Humber Valley is quick to point to the innovative and collaborative spirit that drives OAR staff.
“We have a great working relationship! The college staff took a high interest in our project, showing enthusiasm and helping to enhance our process for creating our new product, the Fresh Fry. Lab scheduling, flexibility, and professionalism were outstanding,” says Campbell.
The Fresh Fry had a taste testing at the College of the North Atlantic’s cafeteria where students and faculty responded very well to the new product. The success of the project has Humber Valley Potato Company thinking beyond potatoes, to packaging other fresh, extended shelf life, agrifoods in the future.
“The process of developing MAP packaging for our product validated our product’s potential, and defined our shelf life capabilities,” says Campbell.
When asked if Humber Valley would recommend partnering with the college they stated, “We started our second project with the OAR team in February 2011.”
In the meantime, Humber Valley is hard at work bringing their new production facility online and readying for their new product launch. They are also marketing nationally to commercial customers and some retail markets to sell their new Fresh Fry product throughout Canada. Partnering with Holland College has enabled the Humber Valley Potato Company to accelerate their development goals.