Small B.C. food businesses are accessing customized training, coaching, business planning and implementation support through the Food Business Refresh Program, and the results are being served in Langley.
Corbicula Pollen is British Columbia’s first bee-pollen processing company. Founded by three friends, Corbicula aims to provide local, authentic and minimally processed bee pollen, while using respectful bee husbandry and following practices that support a healthy environment. For Jason Essaunce and his friends, COVID-19 presented a series of new challenges that forced their small business to adapt.
“For years, Corbicula Pollen relied primarily on farmers markets and community events to sell our products,” Essaunce said. “We were also using a third party to process our products, which added to our business costs. When the pandemic hit, these events were either cancelled or had increased restrictions limiting our access to consumers.”
In partnership with the Small-Scale Food Processing Association and Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Food Business Refresh Program is a $650,000 cost-shared program helping local businesses find new opportunities and pivot from markets disrupted by COVID-19. Launched in October 2020, the program helps participants access mentorship services like business coaching and food industry expertise, along with implementation support to help small businesses adapt to the changing conditions of the pandemic.
“The Refresh Program helped us pivot to in-house production by helping us purchase our own equipment and by introducing us to other processors and food industry support programs,” Essaunce said. “By processing and packaging our bee pollen ourselves, we’ll save money and have better control over the quality of our product. Our plan developed through Refresh included developing an e-commerce plan to help get our products to consumers. The online store will help extend our market potential far beyond the B.C. borders.”
Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, said, “Throughout the pandemic, farmers, fishers and food and beverage processors have shown incredible resilience by adapting their businesses to keep communities fed, employed and safe. I’m proud of the local success stories we’re seeing through the Food Business Refresh Program as businesses develop new ways for people to enjoy made-in-B.C. food that helps strengthen our food security and our local economies.”
This funding is part of B.C.’s $10-billion COVID-19 response, which includes StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan that protects people’s health and livelihoods while supporting businesses and communities.
Megan Dykeman, MLA for Langley East –
“As a long-time farmer in Langley, I appreciate the need, especially in the midst of this pandemic, to provide support for farmers. I am very pleased to see the hard work and creativity of Corbicula Pollen in Langley recognized and supported under the Food Business Refresh Program, which is intended to help businesses like Corbicula thrive.”
Andrew Mercier, MLA for Langley –
"Local businesses and organizations are the backbones of our communities, and it’s been a tough year for them. The Food Business Refresh Program supports businesses like Corbicula by helping them navigate the disruptions of COVID-19. Our government knows how important funding like this is, so we can continue to enjoy incredible local goods in the post-pandemic world."
- Since the program launched in October 2020, more than 70 small businesses have benefited from the Refresh Program.
- The Province has invested approximately $550,000 through the Food Business Refresh Program to strengthen small businesses in B.C., with an additional $100,000 provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada.
- B.C.'s food and beverage processing industry has almost 3,000 establishments and is the second-largest manufacturing sector in the province.
- In 2019, sales were up $700 million to a record $10.5 billion.
- In 2019, there were 35,700 food and beverage processing jobs in B.C.
For more information about Corbicula Pollen, visit: https://corbicula.ca/
For more information about the Food Business Refresh Program, visit: https://www.foodbusinessrefresh.ca/
For more information about StrongerBC, visit: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/