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Scotian Gold invests in Innovation
  • From the 1960s to today: Scotian Gold investing in innovation

From the 1960s to today: Scotian Gold investing in innovation

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The first video game console. The first computer mouse. The laser. All hallmark inventions from the 1960s that laid the groundwork for countless future advancements.

For a small business in the small town of Coldbrook, the era is a reminder of an advancement made here in the province’s agricultural industry – in a technology you may have never heard of but have certainly benefitted from.

A history of innovation

Scotian Gold Cooperative is a grower-owned tree fruit cooperative specializing in high quality, premium apple varieties such as Honeycrisp, SweeTango®, and Ambrosia. It is the largest apple packing and storage operation in Eastern Canada.

During the 1960s, Scotian Gold worked closely with the Kentville Research Station (known today as the Atlantic Food and Horticulture Research Centre) in the discovery of hydrated lime, which lowers carbon dioxide levels in Controlled Atmosphere (CA) conditions.

What is CA, you might be wondering? Like the name says, it’s a storage method where oxygen levels are lowered to slow down the respiration rate of the apples, increasing longevity. Today, CA is used around the world, with the only difference being the introduction of computer systems – a process now referred to as "Dynamic CA."

We are excited to begin exploring the capabilities of Dynamic CA.

- David Parrish, CEO of Scotian Gold.

Why Dynamic CA?

Apples are living, breathing organisms. Like humans, they take oxygen in and give off carbon dioxide. The difference is apples can be exposed to low levels of oxygen, which lowers the respiration rate and extends longevity. If oxygen levels dip too low apples can go anaerobic, creating off-flavours and rendering them unmarketable.

Dynamic CA monitors, in real-time, gases being released by apples, implementing the necessary adjustments to keep the storage room at optimal levels.

“Our growers are expanding their orchards. Once trees are planted, they come into production in three years,” explains Parrish. “So, we are able to forecast our production increases three years from now. And we know we need storage.”

Investing in growth

Approving a business development incentive in the form of an Innovation Rebate, Nova Scotia Business Inc. helped Scotian Gold invest in Dynamic CA storage rooms.

As a result, Scotian Gold is able to offer firmer, fresher apples over longer periods of time, giving the company a marketing advantage in export markets, while increasing pack yields and reducing waste.

With NSBI's support, this is what we needed to move forward. Today, the Dynamic CA storage rooms are built and ready for use just in time for this fall’s harvest.

- David Parrish, CEO of Scotian Gold

When asked about how he learned about the Innovation Rebate Program, Parrish was quick to share that Sean Cochrane, NSBI’s Business Development Advisor for the Valley region, tells him about “everything!”  

NSBI's Sean Cochrane walks with David Parish, CEO, Scotian Gold

What's next for Scotian Gold Cooperative?

Scotian Gold Cooperative is looking ahead to more technology improvements for pre-sorting, as well as diversifying their export markets. And their next step? Sitting down with Cochrane, who is always available to provide a variety of business support, assess growth potential and help realize export potential.

If you are a Nova Scotia business looking to grow your business beyond Nova Scotia, our Regional Business Development team, located throughout the province, is dedicated to finding solutions and services for your business. View our interactive map to connect with a member of our team near you.