Guelph MPP Liz Sandals and Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield had the opportunity to mix business with pleasure on Friday, sampling the wares at Royal City Brewing Co. following a joint provincial and federal funding announcement.
The pair appeared at the local microbrewery to announce funding of more than $825,000 for 18 projects across Wellington, Huron, Bruce and Grey counties through the Growing Forward 2 federal-provincial-territorial initiative.
“You could safely say that both our governments recognize how important agri-food is to a growing economy,” said Sandals, who was making the announcement on behalf of Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Jeff Leal.
The Growing Forward 2 program, one soon to be replaced by a new federal and provincial agricultural partnership program, has seen a total of more than $50 million go to food and beverage processors over the past five years, Sandals said.
Royal City Brewing’s share, this time around, is $42,140 — money that the company has invested in canning equipment to help it package and market its product more efficiently.
“Essentially, it’s allowed us to get a much bigger reach without changing the rest of our system,” the brewery’s co-owner, Russ Bateman, said. “I think it’s also made our product better.”
Bateman explained that less air gets into the product in canning, versus bottling, meaning the beer stays fresher longer.
The canning line also packages the product faster, and allows it to be shipped less expensively, with 24 cans costing roughly the same amount to ship as 12 bottles of beer, he said.
“Cans are more flexible to market as well,” he said, explaining they are preferred by the LCBO.
A few other local companies attended the announcement, too, including representatives from Puresource Inc., a Guelph-based distributor of natural and organic foods and wellness products; Escarpment Laboratories Inc., a Guelph-based company that produces yeast for the brewing industry; and Guelph craft distillery Dixon’s Distilled Spirits.