Food and beverage producers will soon have more opportunities to grow their businesses while increasing food security with the development of three new food hubs in Bowser, Cowichan Valley and Victoria.
“B.C. food hubs create new opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses and strengthen food security so British Columbians can rely on locally grown and processed food now and for generations to come,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. “Our BC Food Hub Network is a wonderful example of innovation at a local level, creating jobs and supporting farming, skills training and community building in the regions they operate.”
The B.C. government is investing up to $2 million to purchase food-processing equipment and other startup costs for three hubs in Victoria, Cowichan Valley and Bowser in partnership with the City of Victoria, the Victoria Community Food Hub Society, Cowichan Valley Regional District, Cowichan Green Community Society and Vancouver Island University. The hubs will help small- and medium-scaled businesses access shared food and beverage processing space and equipment to increase their production and sales.
Each food hub is unique, working with the local business and agricultural community to support the equipment and support services they need. The food hub in Bowser will focus on seafood processing, while Cowichan Valley and Victoria will focus on working with farmers and food processors to create more value-added products.
One of the local businesses looking forward to using the new Cowichan Valley food hub is Cow-op.ca. Cow-op is a non-profit farmer and food processor co-operative that hosts an online marketplace for farmers and food processors to sell foods grown, raised, harvested and/or processed in the Cowichan region. Operating since 2014, the online farmers market helps Cowichan Valley farmers access their community and provides more families access to local food. Derrick Pawlowski, Cow-op’s executive director, hopes the new food hub will help the co-operative grow and create more opportunities for producers.
“We're ecstatic for the food innovation hub coming to the Cowichan Valley,” Pawlowski said. “I imagine it as a centre for collective action that will lead to a more robust and resilient local food system. Our farmer owned and operated co-operative, Cow-op.ca, hopes to use the hub to help us expand our marketing, aggregation and distribution services to create more opportunities for local farmers.”
- B.C.’s food and beverage processors produce over $10 billion worth of value-added products each year.
- $5.6 million through the Province’s StrongerBC economic plan have been earmarked for the expansion of the BC Food Hub Network.
- Three food hubs are already operating in Vancouver, Surrey and Port Alberni, with additional hubs in Quesnel and Salmon Arm opening later this year.
- The BC Food Hub Network supports the establishment of a network of regional shared food processing and innovation hubs. The hubs increase value-added processing opportunities for producers and processors and advance innovation in B.C.’s food and beverage processing sector.
StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/
A backgrounder follows.