OAFVC Services

The Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre (OAFVC) offers production support to food entrepreneurs and farmers. Businesses best suited to launching production at the OAFVC include those looking for economic sustainability through shared “pay to play” production and storage spaces, and those seeking a way to continue scaling-up production while working out the details of moving into a built-to-purpose facility or partnering with a co-manufacturer.

Working with clients who have a proven production process, the OAFVC provides access to safe, clean, food manufacturing spaces and qualified production support staff. Clients join our network of food entrepreneurs and industry supporters whose unique experiences and resources help the OAFVC drive opportunities for innovation that benefit all.

 

Clean Space

Two staff using hoses to clean floor of production area

OAFVC processing areas are professionally cleaned before and after client shifts. 

Food Entrepreneurs arrive for their shift to a room that is dedicated for their individual use and pre-sanitized.  OAFVC Food Service Workers (FSWs) spend an average of eight hours a day cleaning shared manufacturing spaces and equipment so that food entrepreneurs can focus on production processes. As part of the OAFVC commitment to ensuring clean production spaces, for each production shift staff swab food contact surfaces for the presence of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to verify cleaning effectiveness and the results are reported to the client.

OAFVC clients produce foods including all allergens. For clients wishing to produce allergen-free products (e.g. gluten free), ATP and Surface Protein testing can verify cleaning effectiveness, and when used in conjunction with a lab test on the products produced clients can feel confident in the allergen-status of the product they produce during their shift.  

Ecolab is our partner in providing clients with a safe clean space to process food.  Ecolab provides the OAFVC with a regime of NSF-approved cleaning products and procedures which the team follow to ensure every production shift starts in a clean, food-safe space.

Production Assistance

Three staff wearing gloves, lab coats & hair nets filling food containersOAFVC’s friendly and experienced Food Service Workers (FSWs) are here to help with efficient food processing. 

For clients who toil alone in a small community or commercial kitchen for small-scale production runs the idea of scaling up to produce 200 kg of product - or more - during a single shift is often hard to imagine.  OAFVC clients are offered the tools and insight necessary to achieve medium- and large-scale growth, beginning with their Trial Shift. 

Engaging the OAFVC’s knowledgeable team of Food Service Workers to provide production support is a great way to reduce production-day stress.  With years of experience operating food manufacturing equipment, working on production lines, and getting the most out of a production shift, the OAFVC team is available to assist with innovate processes, streamlining bottlenecks, and offering experience-based solutions.

Equipment

Equipment for filling food containersOAFVC is host to a wide range of equipment geared to innovate, scale-up, and advance client’s food processing.

Working with food entrepreneurs and farmers to bring an average of 85 different products to market each year, the OAFVC team are active participants in industry innovation.  With a top-notch team of food industry experts, the OAFVC works with clients to deploy equipment to increase efficiency while maintaining food safety.  For clients who have never used food manufacturing equipment before, OAFVC staff are available to offer guidance and support during production shifts. 

Food-Safe Storage

2 staff wearing gloves, lab coats and hair nets wrapping a pallet of foodOAFVC offers dry, cold, and frozen on-site storage for client ingredients, packaging, and finished products.

Scaling-up a food business often requires large ingredient and packaging orders.  The OAFVC offers short and medium term ambient and frozen storage, and a limited amount of chilled space is shared between short-term and ready-for-use production ingredients.

With no long-term contracts local farmers and Farm Markets enjoy the flexibility of OAFVC’s monthly storage rates.  Livestock farmers can seasonally store pre-frozen and sealed meat on pallets, reducing the need for banks of on-farm chest freezers.  Meat must arrive frozen and sealed to be stored at the OAFVC. The OAFVC does not allow raw meat processing onsite.

Clients who work with distributors can rest-easy with OAFVC’s shipping and receiving services.  With an on-grade bay suitable for loading and unloading vehicles from minivans to cube-trucks, and a self-leveling dock for transport trailers, OAFVC is equipped to help as clients scale-up from single-store deliveries to province-wide distribution.

Hops Processing

Hops processing in tin foilOAFVC offers seasonal support for Ontario hops growers who want to pelletize and package their crop.

Supporting small and medium scale hops producers with services to add value to their harvest, the OAFVC offers pelletizing, packaging, and storage services aimed at extending the shelf-life of finished products.  Clients can process pre-dried hops through the OAFVC grinder and pelletizer.  Hops pellets are then cooled and packaged in bags which are flushed with nitrogen before being vacuum sealed.

COVID-19 Response

Canada Covid-19 Alert App LogoServing clients from across Ontario, please note our COVID-19 safety protocols.

The OAFVC team is working hard to limit possible exposure to COVID-19 while maintaining our operations as an essential service.  To that end, the OAFVC has instituted a series of safety measures to help reduce the risk of exposure for clients and staff.

Upon arrival, all staff and visitors undertake an active screening process which includes a temperature check and medical questionnaire.  Only those who pass the screening are permitted to enter and participate in activities onsite. 

Masks must always be worn onsite.  Maintaining a physical distance of more than 2m can be challenging during production processes, for this reason OAFVC Food Service Workers will wear masks and face shields for additional protection when working with clients. Physical distancing measures should be maintained whenever possible.

The OAFVC has developed and is currently testing a UV-C Decontamination Receiving procedure.  All standard sized (40x48x48) pallets and parcel shipments arriving onsite are exposed to UV-C light.  UV-C light has been proven to kill bacteria, germs, and viruses and is used by numerous institutions to create germ-free environments.  Oversized pallets received onsite will be segregated in the receiving area for 48hrs before being permitted further into the building.

A new Client Rest Area offers a dedicated space for clients who wish to take a break or have a meal during their production shift. 

With a client-base spread across the province, OAFVC encourages all clients and staff to download and use the government of Canada’s COVID ALERT app. 

The above is not an exhaustive list of the OAFVC Covid-19 response, and procedures may change as the situation evolves.  Clients with questions should contact the OAFVC leadership team.

Learn about the COVID Alert mobile app