SGS offers an end-to-end supply chain range of services that reduce risk, ensure quality and improve productivity. SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing, and certification company in a joint venture with Grain Farmers of Ontario launched the Grains Analytical Testing Laboratory in Guelph in July 2016 – an investment that is already paying dividends to the Ontario agriculture sector.
“This lab is the first of its kind in the province and is helping to position Ontario as a strong leader, in domestic and international markets, for cereal crops,” says Barry Senft, CEO of Grain Farmers of Ontario, the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean, and wheat farmers. There are few analytical testing labs in the country and most are located in Western Canada, where even western farmers send samples to the U.S. when things get backlogged, further suggesting the value of this investment.
The facility brings an entirely new talent base and value to Ontario’s agriculture and food sector concentration in Guelph according to Paolo Santangelo, Commercial Manager at the Grains Analytical Testing Laboratory.
“We’ve seen a significant interest from Ontario’s wheat breeding programs, using our facility to help determine which varieties of wheat add value to the industry moving forward,” says Santangelo. “As an organization Grain Farmers of Ontario is committed to providing end users with reliable information on quality that highlights what they can expect from that year’s crop. This allows them the opportunity to expand their market share, and it’s getting noticed by end user (industry bakers) because the information is now available quicker.”
The lab is intended to test wheat and flour in controlled conditions, from grains to milled flour to dough used in the production of breads and cookies, to identification of the best quality wheat for this purpose. The lab is looking to expand in the years to come to cover other crops grown in Ontario such as barley, corn, oats and soybeans as well.
“The process begins when the Grains Analytical Testing Laboratory receives a sample of wheat. A sample of the grain is evaluated, and the balance milled using a Buhler Laboratory Mill. The flour is further tested for qualities useful to processors and end users, as to how it will bake and compare to other samples,” says Santangelo.
For bread, technicians look at the overall physical characteristics – colour, crust, shape, height, and volume – what a bread consumer sees as a “first impression”. Some customers also want some sensory analysis done such as smell and crumb feel. For cookies, industry is concerned about how much spread there is during baking.
“The data collected helps farmers market their grain nationally and internationally, and by marketing the end-use quality of the resulting flour, value is added to the Ontario crop for farmers and the industry at large,” says Santangelo.