Food Centre President, Dan Prefontaine, inducted to the 2019 Saskatchewan Agriculture Hall of Fame
-- posted January 11, 2019 --
Congratulations to Dan on being inducted to the Saskatchewan Agriculture Hall of FAme. This award recognizes agricultural leaders who are making significant contributions to the welfare and improvement of Saskatchewan agriculture. Dan has been a strong advocate for the value added sector. He strongly believes in the potential of our agriculture industry in Saskatchewan and has shown this by supporting entrepreneurship and commercialization of food product ideas in his 35 plus years in the food industry.
Dan has been leading the Food Centre since 2000. The Food Centre provides vital services, expertise and facility for Saskatchewan’s agriculture industry to add more value to what they grow. Under Mr. Prefontaine’s leadership, the Food Centre has assisted over 300 companies in the development and processing of new food products, with over 800 new products utilizing Saskatchewan based agricultural inputs.
The growth of the Food Centre, since Mr. Prefontaine took over, has been phenomenal. He led the growth of the Food Centre from a 10,000 square ft processing facility that primarily focused on meat processing to a 43,000 sq ft facility called the Agri-Food Innovation Centre, which can accommodate a wide variety of agricultural products: food, fibre, cereal and pulse processing, fruit and vegetable processing, etc.
Mr. Prefontaine spearheaded the development and construction of the new facility to expand and enhance the Food Centre’s capabilities to support agribusinesses, entrepreneurship, and commercialization of Saskatchewan food products. He worked tirelessly to secure financial assistance from funding agencies and private companies in the construction of the new facility. This new milestone, led by Mr. Prefontaine, will help drive innovation in the agri-food sector and encourage expansion of the food and agricultural processing industry in Saskatchewan.
Under Mr. Prefontaine’s leadership, the Food Centre has become a reputable organization to attract companies in doing business in Saskatchewan. For example, the opening of Verdient Foods in Vanscoy, SK which is backed by movie director, James Cameron. The Food Centre is working with Verdient Foods to develop value added food products utilizing pea starch and protein.
Under Mr. Prefontaine’ s leadership, the Centre’s reputation has grown exponentially not just locally but internationally.The Food Centre has fast become the place to visit for international agribusinesses, government leaders, and trade missions. The Centre hosts over 50 tours and visits annually by international organizations, companies and institutions; and they see the direct involvement of the Food Centre in the agriculture industry and our respected role in value added opportunities. In turn, many large multinational corporations have solicited the services of the Food Centre to develop food products using Saskatchewan grown ingredients that they may not have considered.
In addition, Mr. Prefontaine has secured funding for many programs and processing technologies to assist agribusiness in food product development, processing and packaging. Programs include:
• Research and development programs to assist processors to overcome technical challenges, develop new food products, new ingredient exploration, and many more.
• Food Industry Training programs – initiating food safety and skills development training programs for agribusiness to ensure product safety, employee food safety training, and good manufacturing practices. Saskatchewan’s first online HACCP training and Good Manufacturing Practices, to reach rural agribusinesses, was launched in 2008. Both programs have allowed rural processors to train their staff at their own time.
• Most notable, securing new technologies to assist agribusinesses to capture new market opportunities – extrusion technology, bar forming and packaging line, fermentation, fruit and vegetable processing equipment, and many more.