Activity expands potential for Canadian field crops

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Pea ‘poppers’, barley ‘buddies’, fish food pellets. These are just a few examples of the test products Cigi has created as part of its increasing research involving the extrusion of ingredients for food and animal feed. Cigi’s extrusion activities have expanded over the past two years following the installation of a Clextral EV-25 twin screw extruder and a NAMAD lab scale extruder added during an equipment upgrade funded through Western Economic Diversification, the Canadian Wheat Board, Manitoba Agriculture Food and Rural Initiatives and Cigi.

 So far, using the twin screw extruder, Cigi has tested a range of field crops as ingredients to investigate the development of new products for companies and organizations as well as for internal testing so Cigi staff can further explore its potential, says Ashok Sarkar, Cigi Head of Milling and Pasta Technology.

In addition, the NAMAD lab scale extruder, used for processing smaller amounts of pasta, has been used extensively both for Cigi and external clients.

 “We have done a fair amount of development work for future business and promotion of Canadian field crops,” Ashok says. “We produced a barley sample for a major cereal company for their consideration for use in a food bar. For Cigi we processed extruded snack foods with flour from barley (barley ‘buddies’), peas (pea ‘poppers’) and durum, and used them successfully as promotional items at agricultural events to demonstrate to people the potential for these ingredients in different products.

 “There is a lot of opportunity for product development activity and for process-oriented work that aims to improve extruded product quality,” Ashok says. “We can also test a wide range of field crops that may find more uses for them, which fits with our mandate.”

 In addition to exploring the potential for food products, Cigi has been working with companies to help develop feed products for animals and fish. Dr. Rex Newkirk, Cigi Director of Research and Business Development, says that extruded products for pet food and aquafeed have been two main areas of focus.

 “We’ve done test extrusion for a local company and they have been able to put the product into feeding trials as well as work for Saskatchewan Pulse Growers examining the use of pulses in pet food,” he says. “We will soon be doing some work for another local company, using natural ingredients in pet food.”

 Rex says in future he would like to see an even wider range of innovative research opportunities. “Our extruder is really handy for small research studies or for looking at extrusion processes. There are many possibilities on the food and the feed side if you look at the extruded products we’re already making. So far we’re just scratching the surface.”

 For more information: asarkar@cigi.ca or rnewkirk@cigi.ca

 Article originally published in Cigi.ca e-publication, Summer 2010.