Nonprofit Leader: Runner-up
Executive director, Small Scale Food Processor Association
Candice Appleby got an early start as an entrepreneur. At 15 in her hometown of Regina, she earned a real estate licence so she could fill in for her realtor dad. Appleby owned a car detailing shop, a music store and a fishing resort before taking over the two-year-old Small Scale Food Processor Association (SSFPA) in 2004.
The food business and its regulations are complex, Appleby notes. “I find the food system as a whole really similar to jazz, especially if you use all 10 fingers,” the musician says with a laugh.
The Nanaimo-based SSFPA, which aims to be Canada’s top support organization for small and medium-sized food processors, helps them navigate that minefield. Its 350-plus members have access to a variety of food safety and other educational programs, plus help with marketing, networking and advocacy.
Because the SSFPA has a small budget, it operates through partnerships, Appleby explains. One such effort is its food safety programs, which meet international standards. Another alliance launched the Foodmetrics Community Food Analysis Lab, where processors and growers can do the testing they need to sell at grocery chains and to export, in Courtenay in 2018. “It’s food safety and those requirements—industry requirements much more so than government—that dictate access to markets,” Appleby says.
When COVID struck, the SSFPA noticed that many government supports left small food processors behind. So it joined forces with a member to create the Food Business Refresh program, which has seen several participants pivot and enhance their operations.
Appleby served on the advisory committee for the provincial government’s Buy BC, Feed BC and Grow BC marketing campaigns, as well as for its Food Hub Network. “I see huge upside in B.C.,” she says of her industry. “Together we’re strong.”