The food and beverage processing industry is the second largest industry in Canada in terms of the dollar value of production. Shipments in 2014 totaled $105.5 billion, which accounts for 17% of total manufacturing shipments and 2% of the national Gross Domestic Product.
It is the largest manufacturing employer and provides jobs to 246,000 Canadians. With such robust domestic food production, Canada can supply the domestic market and yet still be a player in the export market. Reports estimate that 75% of the processed food and beverage product available to Canadians is domestically produced, making us capable of feeding our own population while also contributing to feeding the world.
A great opportunity to improve sustainability and costs resides within the 30-40% food waste produced through the value chain – the 30-40% being an equivalent of $31 billion each year. Where in the process is this happening and why? Thankfully, answers to these questions are becoming clearer as light shines increasingly brighter on this problem. Maclean’s magazine, for example, published a feature article with front page coverage in their May 2015 issue.
The food waste problem in Canada is an accumulation of waste occurring at all steps in the farm-to-fork process, so the food processing industry is no exception. For this portion of the food waste problem, it’s incumbent on industry to think innovatively about solutions.
This solution-based innovative thinking is currently at work through a collaborative research partnership formed between Halton Region’s Ippolito Fruit and Produce, P&P Optica, and Provision Coalition. Catalyzed by a food waste problem at Ippolito Fruit and Produce, the partnership is focused on implementing P&P Optica’s innovative chemical imaging technology in concert with a corporate sustainability program administered by Provision Coalition.
The combination of the development of P&P Optica’s technology for grading and sorting leafy greens more effectively than is done today, along with the sustainability training program to create a change in culture, will reduce food waste significantly at Ippolito Fruit and Produce.
More exciting announcements from this partnership are to come in the near future!