March 8, 2019
One of Ontario’s leading food processing manufacturers, Vantage Foods produces case-ready fresh meat, such as pork, and ground beef. With a new product line set to launch in 2018, Vantage Foods has opened a new facility to expand their range to include fresh seafood as well.
Short distribution times mean fresher meat products
Located in Bay of Quinte, Vantage Foods will be building another 50,000 sq ft. facility next to their main facility, which already stands at 48,000 sq ft. When constructing their new seafood facility, Vantage Foods already knew first-hand that Bay of Quinte was the ideal central location to reach their markets.
In order to deliver fresher quality products – especially seafood – products need to be shipped quickly. Right next to the 401 corridor, Bay of Quinte is connected to Ontario and Quebec – allowing Vantage Foods to reach 50% of Canada’s population in less than one day’s drive.
Vantage Food’s main customer, Metro in Toronto is only 2.5 hours by truck; and their HQ and main offices in Quebec are only 4 hours east.
One product in their new line-up that Vantage Foods will be processing is fresh salmon – and it may surprise you to hear it will be supplied from the west coast. While it takes two to three days for the salmon to arrive, Vantage Foods are using the delivery time to their advantage. Before salmon can be processed, it is in rigor mortis for around two and a half days, and waiting for it to pass through rigor mortis would require extra storage space in the facility. By utilizing the travel time, Vantage Foods can process the salmon upon arrival, and distribute it to retailers in less than 24 hours of receiving it. Compared to processing it on the west coast, this process is around a day and a half faster, and consumers get fresher salmon. This is the kind of food processing innovation that percolates in Ontario’s Bay of Quinte region.
Attracting Talent: International Leaders Want To Come to the Bay of Quinte
Pioneers of advanced manufacturing, Vantage Foods has a leading edge food processing facility, with automated and flexible equipment, and a state of the art refrigeration plant.
For their new seafood plant, Ontario-based Vantage Foods purchased top end equipment from Europe, and hired a new general manager – Alan Cook – who moved from Scotland to Bay of Quinte to oversee the new venture.
“It’s quite unique in Canada to have fresh meat and seafood processed in the same facility; and they needed someone with a skill set in seafood manufacturing. I was an operations director for a seafood manufacturer in the UK, and involved with everything: food safety, new product development, finance – the whole shebang. At Vantage Foods seafood facility, I ensure all the moving parts of the business work together in a cohesive machine to benefit us and the customer.”
The rest of the workforce is easily recruited from the strong food processing experienced labour force the Bay of Quinte produces thanks to the strong cluster of existing companies in this sector, and the strong manufacturing programming offered by Loyalist College to support food processors in germinating and re-training local talent.
“A Flexible, Dedicated Workforce” with Innovative Recruitment Methods
This cluster of food processing manufacturers in the region, and a range of related training programs, have lead to a large talent pool, praised by Cook as “a flexible, dedicated workforce.”
Vantage Foods employs around 225 staff at their existing Bay of Quinte facility, and with the opening of the seafood plant, 80 to 90 new staff are being hired.
The Quinte Economic Development Centre (QEDC) have helped streamline the process, providing funding for training, and connecting Vantage Foods to a number of cost-efficient ways to find talent.
One Vantage Food’s most convenient ways of sourcing talent was through the Elevate Plus Training program. A collaboration between QEDC and Loyalist Training and Knowledge Centre, Elevate Plus is a free 6-week program to train individuals for a career in manufacturing.
Having used it previously when hiring for their fresh meat facility, Vantage Foods were so impressed with the Elevate Plus program, they used it again to hire for their new seafood plant.
As Cook describes, “Staff came trained and work-ready from the program, it was amazing.
Loyalist College are so supportive and they’ve just made it so convenient to find talent. For the seafood line, we needed a more specialized training program, since the bacteria associated with seafood is different to meat. So we asked the Loyalist Training and Knowledge Centre, and they built an Elevate Plus training program for us, specific to seafood processing.
The training programs at the LTKC are such good quality, we’ve also gone through them for supervisory training and partner management training too.”
Career expos, such as the Belleville Job Fair coming up in October, provide opportunities for employers to find skilled talent. The HR team at Vantage Foods attended the Quinte Career and Training Fair in April, and found a number of new employees through there.
Interested in finding skilled talent? Contact the team at QEDC to discuss recruitment and training options for your company.
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