From Culinary Quests to Quality Control
By Jennifer McFee
Bethany Alards is taking a bite out of the food industry with an appetite to become an expert in everything from culinary quests to quality control.
Peak of the Market Ltd. developed a brand new role for a quality control manager, and Alards has proven to be the perfect person to fill the position.
“My job is to ensure that what we’re bringing in and shipping out is the best quality. I spend a lot of my time in the cooler double-checking and making sure that everything meets our customers’ requirements,” she says. “It’s a unique role that involves a lot of communication with our sales team.”
For Alards, her interest in food has been simmering since childhood when her family couldn’t keep her out of the kitchen.
“I’ve always been a cook and a baker. Ever since I was nine or 10, I was cooking supper for my family. I can only imagine how many heart attacks I gave my mother,” she says with a laugh.
“I followed that passion and dream to take the culinary arts program at Red River College, but I found that it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do as a career. I wanted it more to be a hobby, so I switched it up and got into food science — and it really was the best decision ever.”
Alards pursued the science-based degree at the University of Manitoba, where she developed skills that led her to work in different manufacturing environments.
“There’s lots of opportunity for people with a food science degree. Any food manufacturing facility really needs to have someone that knows food science,” she says. “You learn about food safety plans and quality control.”
Since she stepped into her role as Peak of the Market Ltd.’s quality control manager, she’s been impressed to see the automated enhancements used by the organization.
“Our whole packaging line got revamped to minimize impact and bruising,” she says, adding that this area also falls under the broad umbrella of quality control. “We have two robots that will palletize the packaged product in a way to minimize impact and bruising on the potatoes and onions, which we pack here. These robotic arms will lift the final package and place it gently on the pallet in a predetermined configuration so it minimizes any kind of product damage.”
All in all, Alards is thrilled to have the opportunity to apply her skills in the newly developed position.
“I like that each day is different and you never really know what’s going to happen. I also really enjoy the people I work with. They’re such a great group, and they welcomed me here, making me feel very accepted and at home,” said Alards, who enjoys camping with her daughter, son, and husband.
“It’s not a one-person show by any means. Everyone plays a role in the quality and I am the go-to person who will be a champion for it. There has been lots of positive feedback from the Growers about my new role.”