The food and beverage processing industry is the second largest industry in Canada in terms of the dollar value of production. Shipments in 2014 totalled $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. It is then shocking to learn that 30-40% of the food produced is lost along the value chain, an equivalent of $31 billion or more 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:
Maclean’s How to solve the food waste problem
When we are faced with these startling waste numbers the question arises, what do we as Canadians plan to do about it? As an innovator in the technology space, P&P Optica continuously looks for ways in which our chemical imaging systems can help to solve real-life problems. To that end we’ve had the opportunity to learn about the key challenges currently facing food processors, including the problem of waste. Relationships that we’ve developed with key organizations in the industry have enabled us to understand the severity of the issue and the factors that influence it. For example, we’ve had the privilege of getting to know Doug Alexander, Director of Engineering at Ippolito Fruit & Produce, and Provision Coalition, the leading voice on sustainability in the food and beverage industry. As a result of these relationships we have a good understanding of our technology’s potential to have a meaningful impact on the food waste problem. To boot, as individual consumers at P&P Optica we also find ourselves being more mindful of food waste in our personal lives. Watch this space, as we anticipate future announcements about our involvement in the food waste issue at the industrial level. In the meantime, please visit Provision Coalition Food Waste for information about the great work that Provision Coalition is doing on sustainability in the food industry.