Food In Canada


Grand River Foods and Maple Lodge Farms first recipient of Ontario Chicken Innovation Award

Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) announced the first recipient of the Ontario Chicken Innovation Award, co-applicants Grand River Foods and Maple Lodge Farms, who are collaborating to produce frozen, smoked chicken products using a proprietary process that is the first-of-its-kind in North America.

Created in 2018 by Chicken Farmers of Ontario, the Program is the first-of-its-kind in the chicken industry. It is open to primary processors, further processors, retailers, foodservice and restaurant companies involved in the processing, marketing and sale of chicken products. Companies that are not primary processors must include a primary processor as part of their application. Innovations must use chicken grown and fully processed in Ontario.

(L-R): Michael Burrows, CEO of Maple Lodge Farms; Don Kilimnik, Director of Co-Packaging Sales and Special Projects, Grand River Foods; and
Paul Borg, Member of the Independent Advisory Committee that oversees CFO’s Ontario Chicken Innovation and Growth Program

In assessing applicants, the Independent Advisory Committee considered four factors: historic sales, projected future sales, the quality of the idea and economic value. An additional supply of live birds is directed to the successful applicant’s primary processor to enable the innovation.

“This new, inline cooking approach allows chicken to be infused with a blend of smoke from untreated hardwoods through the cooking process and quickly frozen to lock in the flavours,” said Don Kilimnik, Director of Co-Packing Sales and Special Projects, Grand River Foods. “We’re thrilled to be able to further grow this product line with the additional supply of chicken.”

“Our companies collaborate on many products and we are excited to be recognized,” said Fred Marques, Chief Operating Officer, Maple Lodge Farms. “Chicken is already Canada’s favourite protein and we are confident that introducing new products like this will strengthen that position.”

With the first year of the Ontario Chicken Innovation and Growth Program complete, the Independent Advisory Committee is reviewing the Program and will open the next round of applications in the coming months.

“We look forward to continuing to accelerate innovation in our industry and encourage all those involved in the processing, marketing and sale of chicken to consider applying,” said Ed Benjamins, Chair of Chicken Farmers of Ontario.

“By rewarding innovation, we can do more to put innovative chicken products on the plates of Canadian consumers and enhance economic activity in Ontario,” added Rob Dougans, President and CEO, Chicken Farmers of Ontario. “We look forward to seeing more successful applicants in the future.”

For more information about the Program, visit


Kristy Nudds

Editor, Food In Canada
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