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GUELPH, ON - Consumers want more information about their food, not less. Food processors want to know the ingredients they are buying will meet consistency standards. And exporters want to sell a quality product that will maintain Ontario’s status as a reliable source for commodities. The new Grains Analytical Testing Laboratory will meet all of these needs within the cereal grains value chain.

“What customers are looking for is a greater level of transparency of the food chain,” says Don Slobodzian, vice president of agriculture and food, SGS Canada. “We all know that wheat has many handoffs in the value chain and it transforms in the value chain. Every time it has a hand off, those customers are looking for science and a depth of knowledge in the quality attributes of the ingredients they are buying.”

The Guelph, Ontario based Grains Analytical Testing Laboratory is a joint venture between Grain Farmers of Ontario and SGS Canada. It is the first time a producer organization and a private company have joined to open a lab of this nature in Canada. “The lab will help Grain Farmers of Ontario identify new marketing opportunities for our farmer-members by gaining a better understanding of the quality of Ontario cereal crops,” explained Mark Brock, chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario, at the grand opening of the lab in July. “The lab will also provide technical expertise to interpret analytical data and help position Ontario as a top supplier of high quality cereal commodities.”

The lab has full commercial capabilities for Ontario, Canadian, and North American millers and processors. It is equipped to conduct rheological testing, physical dough and bake testing, and protein level testing.

“There is no one test that is more relevant than another. It is a package of information that needs to be considered and how it relates to end use,” notes Paolo Santangelo, commercial manager of the Grains Analytical Testing Laboratory. “For example, farmers tend to believe that high protein is what is wanted, but that isn’t necessarily the case depending on what the wheat is being used for. Every process needs different parameters, values that we will obtain from these tests.” Knowing which cereal varieties are meeting the needs of industry will help farmers plan their crop rotations and help with their ability to market their grains. 

“The ability to market the wheat crop is critical with world wheat production at an all-time high,” says Brock. “Ontario is a small player when it comes to production, but has been able to differentiate itself through consistently high quality products. The lab will not only help to meet the immediate needs of the industry, but will also help position Ontario in the future as a leader in domestic and export markets.”

“You need to continue to improve and innovate, and you need to continue to ensure that you have great relationships with customers,” says Slobodzian. “One of the fundamentals in a good relationship is trust and transparency in the pipeline and so this is an opportunity for producers within Ontario to know that they are going to have the confidence of global importers and food ingredient processors and a strong market for their product.”

In the future, the lab will also offer quality tests for corn and soybeans to provide value to all of our farmer-members and ensure we are maximizing the potential of these commodities in domestic and international markets.