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Tackling food loss to grow profit in Ontario’s produce industry

The Ontario Produce Marketing Association and Value Chain Management International are partnering on a food waste reduction initiative tailored to Ontario’s produce industry.

Running from now until October 2017, the initiative is the first of its type in North America. The purpose of the project is to raise industry awareness and create the skills required to measurably reduce food loss and waste in Ontario’s produce value chain: grower, packer, shipper, wholesaler, distributor, retail or foodservice, and ultimately the consumer.

These outcomes will be achieved by working with chosen industry leaders/OPMA members to create materials and daily management tools, which will be shared with industry through a series of eight workshops, media articles, industry newsletters and webinars.

Industry leaders will be trained on how to identify and address the root causes of FLW, resulting in opportunities to improve the competitiveness of Ontario’s fresh produce industry by implementing sustainable programs for reducing FLW along the entire value chain.

The first two open workshops, to be held in Toronto, are taking place Feb. 8 and March 29. To register or learn more, contact Updates will also be made as the project progresses at

Peter Whitehead, who has led U.K. initiatives with the Institute of Grocery Distributors, and advises the U.K.’s food waste program, Waste Resources Action Programme, is one consultant working on this project.

“We are very pleased to partner with Dr. Martin Gooch and Dr. Peter Whitehead from VCMI, world leaders on food waste reduction," OPMA President Virginia Zimm said in a press release. "Clearly, addressing food loss and associated waste is a significant opportunity for our members to be more profitable and to actively contribute to a more environmentally and socially responsible world.”

According to the World Bank, up to one-third of the world’s food produced for human consumption is either lost during processing or is wasted by consumers due to evolving consumption patterns. North America and Oceania stand out from other developed regions with the most food wasted per capita. In fresh produce, waste typically accounts for 20 percent of all costs incurred. Reducing waste by 1 percent can result in the equivalent of a 4 percent increase in revenue.