McCain Foods Releases Farm of the Future Canada Year Three Report

05 June 2024

McCain’s flagship commercial research farm showcasing encouraging results in New Brunswick for the demonstration of sustainable farming practices at commercial scale.

TORONTO, ON (May 5, 2024) – McCain Foods’ Farm of the Future Canada is showing positive results to mitigate the environmental impact of farming.

With three growing seasons at the Farm now complete, the commercial scale farm located in McCain’s hometown of Florenceville, NB, is driving the company’s effort to re-imagine the way it grows a potato. New practices that mark the shift from conventional farming to regenerative agriculture have produced positive results on crop yield and quality while prioritizing soil health, water use, biodiversity, and climate resilience.

Progress at Farm of the Future Canada is key to ensuring McCain’s commitment to implement regenerative agriculture across all its potato acreage by 2030.

“Through meticulous monitoring and data-driven decision making, Farm of the Future Canada is cultivating a farm ecosystem that thrives on resilience, diversity, and innovation,” says Philippe Thery, Chief Agriculture Officer. “Farm of the Future Canada embodies McCain’s deep commitment to collaboration and rigorous environmental stewardship. We are dedicated to developing cutting-edge tools and insights that not only minimize risk for our growers, but also pave the way for their progress.”

Farm of the Future Canada is located on roughly 500 acres of land just outside Florenceville, NB — 360 acres are under cultivation, and an additional 140 acres of forested land surrounds the fields to enhance the farm’s ecosystem and support biodiversity. The farm has also secured an additional 145 acres through a long-term agreement with a neighbouring grower, and 74 acres from Valley Farms, McCain’s corporate farm partner.

As outlined in the company’s Farm of the Future Canada Year Three Report, the Farm has delivered positive outcomes across the four key impact areas that regenerative agriculture aims to address:

  • Soil Health — With practices like controlled-traffic farming, tillage reduction, and planting cover crops, soils are less compacted overall. Farm of the Future Canada is demonstrating the potential for increases in soil organic carbon, and subsequently organic matter, enhancing soil health over time.
  • Water Management — Innovations like controlled-traffic farming have reduced soil compaction, thereby increasing water infiltration by 117 per cent, reducing soil erosion and nutrient loss by 20 to 60 per cent. This is contributing to nutrients staying within the production system thus preventing the pollution of our surface and ground water resources.
  • Biodiversity — Introducing livestock to the Farm highlights the potential for more diverse farming revenue systems while also supporting farm insect diversity. Thriving ecosystems, with wild bee populations and soil biodiversity flourishing, demonstrate the success of biodiversity conservation efforts. McCain has catalogued 500 million sequences using DNA metabarcoding, pulling insights from a complex diversity of soil animals, bacteria, and fungi. McCain is also observing patterns indicating the benefits of cropping diversity where, for example, a higher cropping diversity is linked to a more diverse community of soil animals.
  • Climate Resilience — Solar panel installation on the Farm has the potential to produce approximately 139,000 kWh of clean energy annually, offsetting the power bill by an estimated $16,000 or more per year. Greenhouse gas monitoring is showing progress over time, with the Farm’s carbon footprint remaining below the provincial average (an average carbon dioxide equivalent of 66.8 kg/t vs 83 and 107.8 in 2021 and 2022, respectively). These efforts are driving us towards a carbon-neutral future.

All these outcomes enhance farm resilience, driving better yield and quality of potato. Varieties like Caribou Russet and King Russet have showcased resilience and quality, with stable gross yields and minimal storage losses due to rot, likely connected to reduced soil compaction and improved water filtration.

Farm of the Future Canada is the first of three promised Farms of the Future sites that McCain has pledged to have operational by the end of 2025. Farm of the Future Africa just completed its second growing season in South Africa.

Read the third annual report on Farm of the Future Canada here

About McCain Foods

McCain Foods Limited is a family-owned business founded in 1957 in Florenceville, New Brunswick, Canada. Today, the company is the world’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products and a global leader in prepared appetizers and snacks. Its products can be found in restaurants and retail stores in more than 160 countries around the world. The company has major production, retail and corporate operations around the world, employs approximately 22,000 people, operates 51 production facilities on six continents, partners with 3,500 farmers and generates annual sales in excess of $14 billion CAD.