Ontario farm and food businesses have partnered to develop new food waste reduction technology
A report from Guelph, Ont.-based Provision Coalition, called Addressing Food Waste in Canada, indicates that 30 to 40 per cent of food produced in Canada is lost across the farm, manufacturer, retailer and consumer continuum.
A number of Canadian food companies and industry associations have been working towards solutions to address this issue at the manufacturing level, where roughly 18 per cent of losses occur, according to a Provision Coalition press release. One such collaborative initiative led by Ippolito Fruit & Produce, Riga Farms, EarthFresh Foods and Amazing Grains is taking a novel approach with the development of hyperspectral chemical imaging technology for production line grading and sorting of leafy greens, carrots and potatoes. This technology, which is used in other sectors, can offer significant untapped benefits to food and beverage businesses.
“Currently, many produce manufacturers in Canada are using aging technology for sorting and grading. At Ippolito, we connected with our industry peers to explore and then implement new technology – technology that has broader food industry application and will be shared with companies across the country,” says Joel Ippolito, chief executive officer of Ippolito Group.
P&P Optica, an Ontario-based chemical imaging solutions company and Axiom Millwrighting & Fabrication, which specializes in the design and installation of industrial equipment, have been contracted to develop, test and pilot the new technology. In partnership, the bench and in-field testing will be conducted by the University of Guelph and Conestoga College.
Provision Coalition has also been engaged to integrate a sustainability program and coordinate the change management required at Ippolito.
“The corporate culture in Canadian food companies is one that welcomes business improvements which makes it possible for my team to step in and help implement new operating procedures. We also spend time with companies having a conversation around the importance of reducing food waste and how it connects to food security and climate change,” says Cher Mereweather, executive director of Provision Coalition.
This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.