Oilseed Innovation Partners helps food business expand production and market share

A Waterloo Region local food business is growing its markets and developing new business opportunities thanks to the support of Oilseed Innovation Partners (OIP).

The Guelph-based organization, which supports innovation and commercialization of business opportunities related to Canadian oilseeds, has been providing support to client Henry’s Tempeh for two years as the fermented food producer expands their markets and ramps up production.Henry’s Tempeh has been producing their fermented food product, a staple in Indonesian cuisine, since 2002, using locally grown, certified organic Ontario soybeans. Fermentation makes foods easier to digest, breaking down proteins into more basic amino acids that can be more readily absorbed by the human body.

“Interest in fermented foods in Canada is really starting to grow and the potential of this market for Canadian oilseeds is still largely untapped,” says OIP CEO Jeff Schmalz. “It represents a significant market opportunity and we are excited by the success Henry’s Tempeh has realized to date and by the role we’ve been able to play in helping them grow and expand their business.”

OIP staff has helped Henry’s with sales and marketing training and given support to help the company expand distribution of their product, which is available at hundreds of stores from Manitoba to the Maritimes. It is now also sold through three Ontario and one Quebec-based distributor.

OIP has also played a key role in providing business management coaching and introducing Henry’s Tempeh to potential product partners and suppliers, industry experts, and funding opportunities offered through the Accelerating Innovative Research (AIR) program.

It’s with AIR funding that Henry’s Tempeh is now working with the Craig Richardson Institute for Food Processing Technology in Kitchener to develop equipment and processes related to a new product the company is working on bringing to market. AIR is delivered by Bioenterprise on behalf of the Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre, with funding provided by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. OIP is a partner in the ATCC.

“When we work with clients like Henry’s Tempeh, we focus on establishing partnerships and collaborations where we bring together the expertise needed to meet a company’s needs, from product development and marketing support to assistance with regulatory compliance and funding,” explains OIP Senior Market Development Manager Mike Williams.

“We help companies build alliances and networks that will let them grow, create jobs and bring new products to market – and Henry’s Tempeh is a perfect example of a company that was seeking the kinds of services we offer to help them move to the next level,” adds Schmalz.

Henry’s Tempeh co-owner Paul Sauder says they began working with OIP about two years ago and credits the organization with partnering with Henry’s to play a critical role in their success to date. Just over a year ago, Henry’s Tempeh moved into new facilities in Kitchener, achieved HACCP certification and has expanded its processing capabilities to keep up with growing demand for their product.

“The staff at OIP has taught us how to think on a larger scale while keeping us grounded in reality,” says Sauder. “They’ve been key to our success and continue to play a valuable role in growing our business.”

Oilseed Innovation Partners is funded by Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

Story by Lilian Schaer