UPDATED: $3.5 million in government money to help Kentville's Apple Valley Foods carve bigger slice of pie market

Kirk Starratt
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Apple Valley Foods is hoping government investment will boost its sales on domestic and international pie markets. Federal and provincial politicians announced March 19 at the company’s Kentville Industrial Park plant the company will be receiving substantial investments from both governments to increase production and competitiveness.

West Nova MP Greg Kerr announced $2.5 million in federal funding for Apple Valley Foods and provincial Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell announced $1 million in provincial money.  

“This investment for funding for Apple Valley Foods means that we can invest in high technical equipment to help our competiveness across North America,” Apple Valley Foods president Jeff Sarsfield said.

The Kentville plant is undergoing a $10-million modernization. The funding will support the purchase and installation of new production line equipment to increase automation, precision and packaging. Quality control will be improved and efficiency enhanced. The investment will allow the company to double its production of frozen fruit pies and buy more apples and berries from local growers, boosting the Valley’s farm economy, according to the federal announcement.  

Sarsfield said his family has many years experience in the pie business, starting with his parents baking pies in their home kitchen in the late 1970s. The family sold a previous business to George Weston, which still operates in the same industrial park.

Apple Valley Foods began in 2000 and now employs 160 full-time workers in the Valley and claims the title of being Canada’s second largest pie manufacturer. It has enjoyed product growth in the Canadian market, especially in the in-store bakery area under private labels. Apple Valley Food has also been doing more business on the food services side of the market.

“We’ve been proud to be part of that continual growth and to be able to do it right here in rural Nova Scotia,” Sarsfield said.

In the United States, the business continues to go strong with the involvement of its major shareholder, the Harlan family of Indiana, owners of one of that country’s largest private bakeries.

“They’ve shown support since they first became involved back in 2002,” Sarsfield said of the Harlans. “They believe in the people here in the Valley and the management, everybody in the factory, for all their hard, dedicated work.”

He said this is why the people in this community have two of the country’s largest pie manufacturers here. Sarsfield also thanked Farm Credit Canada for their continued support.

Many local apple and berry producers sell directly to the company, Kerr said. He called it a “win-win” and “a real success story.” It’s great for the local economy and it also adds to the national economy.

“It’s a sense of doing the right thing for the economy and doing the right thing with our private sector people that are really, successfully, making a difference in our economy,” Kerr said about the federal funding.

Colwell said the provincial government truly appreciates the work the employees and management of Apple Valley Foods have done to help grow the province’s economy.

“We’re totally committed to growing the agriculture industry and the processing industry that goes with that and this is a shining example,” Colwell said.

The federal funding represents repayable investments of $2 million from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriProcessing Initiative and $500,000 through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s Business Development Program.

The provincial investment comes from the Capital Investment Incentive Program, which encourages businesses to become more innovative and productive by reimbursing up to 20 per cent of the cost of advanced equipment to a maximum of $1 million.

 

 

 

 

Earlier story

West Nova MP Greg Kerr was in Kentville today to announce $2.5 million for Apple Valley Foods. Nova Scotia's Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell announced $1 million in provincial funding for the company.

The federal government release says the cash will “support the purchase and installation of new production line equipment to increase automation, precision and packaging, improve quality control and enhance efficiency” for the pie makers.

This investment will allow the company, with sales in both Canada and the U.S., to double its production of frozen fruit pies and to buy more apples and berries from local growers.

The repayable investments of $2 million from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's AgriProcessing Initiative and $500,000 through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency's Business Development Program has helped Apple Valley Foods buy specialized equipment, such as ovens and freezers.

Organizations: Apple Valley Foods, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Geographic location: Kentville, Canada, U.S.

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