A beeswax-based food wrap has captured the attention of judges in the Business Development Bank of Canada’s Young Entrepreneur Award program.
Toni Desrosiers, the founder of Abeego Designs, developed a food wrap that replaces plastic with beeswax to keep food fresh. She entered the product in the awards in the hopes she will best all the entries across Canada and take home the $100,000 grand prize; the product is on its way, having won regional honors in British Columbia.
Michel Bergeron, senior vice president of marketing and public affairs at the BDC, told FoodProductionDaily landing the top prize would provide Desrosiers’ sustainable food packaging business with the capital needed to take it to the next level, expanding from Canada into the US and beyond.
“All companies reach a turning point; some businesses may choose to tap into new markets by implementing an internet strategy, others may decide to acquire new equipment that will increase their overall profitability,” he said. “Recognizing challenges early on and having a plan to tackle individual turning points is important for business and should rank high on an entrepreneur’s agenda.”
Desrosiers said the Abeego food wrap offers benefits over conventional plastic wrap going beyond sustainability.
"We are inspired by nature, and we believe natural materials are ideal for keeping food fresh; this is not a second-rate natural version of plastic,” she said. “Abeego is versatile, flexible, reusable and biodegradable—unlike plastic, it allows food to breathe, keeping it fresh and preserving natural flavours to create less food waste."
According to Desrosiers, response to the packaging product has been favorable, and demand is growing. The company reportedly receives several requests a week from independent stores and small retail chains to purchase the wrap for use in their locations.
Bergeron said Desrosiers, in addition to coming up with a packaging product with significant potential, also has crafted a solid business plan. Winning the top Young Entrepreneur Award prize, he said, could help her greatly accelerate its growth.
“The value of participation goes beyond the monetary value of the award—the entire experience brings the finalists tremendous exposure, public support, and access to people and resources that will ultimately help their companies grow,” he said. “As impressive as the monetary awards may be, a better reason to compete is to get noticed by potential customers and investors.”
Desrosiers faces some stiff competition. Other finalists include an artisanal cheesemaker, a maker of worm-composted natural fertilizer, and a municipal recycling business.
Voting for the 2014 BDC Young Entrepreneur Award contest runs to June 12 at noon EST. To cast a vote, visit the contest website here.