Healthier croissants and Danishes, better WOW from smarter drinks and soy-dairy cheese tech on offer from University of Guelph to global agri-businesses

Agri-food companies from 14 countries have spent $24 million over past five years to take advantage of U of G research capability, with Americans and Germans in the lead 

Whether it’s building a better Danish, expanding the types of ingredients that can be used in the next generation of smart beverages or a new soft-ripened cheese made healthier by soy products, the Ontario Food Cluster is inviting global agri-food firms to set up subsidiaries in Canada’s largest province. As part of Ontario’s 3,200-company, $39 billion agri-food sector, these companies can take advantage of University of Guelph (U of G) research programs that produce partnership and licensing opportunities on innovations like these.

The province of Ontario invests $88 million annually in U of G innovation, and that investment returns about $1.15 billion in economic impact across the province, much of it enjoyed by the agri-food sector, which has a 130-year tradition of involvement with the University. In addition, agri-food companies from 14 countries have invested $24 million over past five years to take advantage of U of G research capability, with American and German firms in the lead.

Specific examples of food and beverage technologies available now to the global agri-food industry include:

Zero-trans, low-saturate roll-in shortening for healthier croissants and Danishes

University of Guelph research has resulted in a shortening product that eliminates trans fat and reduces saturated fat in roll-in shortenings used to create laminated doughs in the manufacture of products such as croissants and Danishes. The product features a high liquid oil content and ‘beta’ crystal structure, yet has high oil-binding capacity and similar mechanical properties as regular ‘beta-prime’, high solid-fat roll-in shortenings.

Stabilized Water-Oil-Water (WOW) emulsions for the next generation of smarter beverages

Certain desirable water-soluble food ingredients, such as bioactive molecules, salts or color cannot easily be incorporated into foods and beverages either because they impart undesirable taste or are prone to degradation. An improved WOW (Water-Oil-Water) double emulsion system invented at University of Guelph is capable of providing extended protection and improved release characteristics that also enable the formation of stable WOW emulsions without the use of heat. This widens possibilities with regards to what types of ingredients can be incorporated into everything from the next generation of smarter and healthier beverages to a more vividly colored chocolate bar.

Cheese products made from mixed soy and dairy proteins

Soy products are increasingly accepted in western society because of their health benefits and because soy ingredients have good processing functionality. While many companies have made ‘cheese’ from soy products, these products have not been widely adopted because it is difficult to replicate a texture comparable to natural cheese. University of Guelph researchers have developed a method to mingle milk and soy proteins in the cheese-making process to achieve the health benefits and cost savings of soy with the taste and texture of dairy, with the first proof of concept being a soft ripened cheese product.

“The U of G’s Industry Liaison program is the best way for global agri-business companies to access our R&D expertise and resources,” said Sue Bennett, Director, University and Community Relations at the University of Guelph. “Working closely with over 800 researchers and 33 academic departments, our Industry Liaison team will quickly find the most appropriate resource and leverage corporate R&D funds at the same time. In fact, provincial and federal Canadian governments that support industry-sponsored research can leverage industry R&D dollars 2:1 or 3:1 and up to 8:1.”

About the Ontario Food Cluster

The Ontario Food Cluster builds international trade and investment opportunities for its expanding 3,200-company agri-food and beverage sector. Food and beverage processing in the province is expected to grow to a $40 billion industry by end of 2013, and the agriculture and agri-food sector is Ontario’s number one employer. Ontario food exports total $9.91 billion, with 130,000 people working directly in agri-food processing/manufacturing and wholesaling, and another 483,000 in related sectors such as food service, retail and specialty stores. The Ontario Food Cluster cities and regions include City of Brantford, City of Hamilton, City of London, County of Elgin, County of Middlesex, Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance, Guelph, Niagara Region, Southwestern Ontario Marketing Alliance, Waterloo Region and Windsor-Essex. The Cluster also partners with Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.