Winning the Diversity Leadership Award at the Yorkton Chamber of Commerce 2016 Celebrate Success Business Awards in April is the latest recognition in a string of awards that TA Foods Ltd. has earned during a period of intense growth.

The Yorkton-based food processor was the recipient of the Growth & Expansion Award at the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce 2015 ABEX awards last October. The company had also been named finalist in the Exports and Innovation categories.

TA Foods specializes in supplying cleaned flaxseed, milled flax and flax oil to bulk and retail markets throughout Canada, the US, Mexico, and Asia and is now offering copackaging/production services to companies requiring custom oil pressing, bottling, and packaging.

The Growth & Expansion award was “an awesome honour,” says Mike Popowich, co-owner of the family operated business. “It’s amazing how much an award like that helps the company gain recognition in the international community.

“A lot of our customers don’t get the opportunity to meet us face-to-face or see our facility, so awards like that really help to legitimize your company in the international community.”

The award recognized the work that TA Foods had accomplished as a result of facility upgrades completed three years ago, when the company added a cleaning plant and bottling line, Popowich says.

“The upgrades were geared to increasing capacity and increasing production and sales. We went from about five employees to 30 employees now—about 26 at the time we won the award.”

“With the addition of our high capacity crushing area, we were able to do a lot more flax oil per day than we were able to do before, and with the addition of a bottling line being able to offer a private label to customers,” he adds. 

“We do all of our own label design and bag design here. We can do it quickly and easily for anybody who wants to start marketing their own brand of milled flax or whole flax or flax oil.”

One particular innovation that Popowich is proud to point out is the company’s success in improving the “smoke point”—the temperature at which bluish smoke starts to form, indicating the destruction of beneficial nutrients and the creation of harmful free radicals—for its flax oils. Flax oils have a reputation for easily oxidizing, he says, resulting in a low smoke point, a little over 100 degrees Celsius.

“But with the flax oil that we produce here it's between 180 and 200 degrees Celsius, similar to an olive oil. So we can recommend our flax oils for baking and for stir frying."