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

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 per cent of all costs incurred. Reducing waste by one per cent can result in the equivalent of a four per cent increase in revenue. 

The Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA) and Value Chain Management International (VCMI) are partnering on a food waste reduction initiative tailored to Ontario’s produce industry.  Dr. Peter Whitehead, who has led UK initiatives with the Institute of Grocery Distributors, and advises the UK’s food waste program, Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), is one consultant working on this project.  OPMA President, Virginia Zimm commented, “We are very pleased to partner with Dr. Martin Gooch and Dr. Peter Whitehead from VCMI, world leaders on food waste reduction. 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.” 

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 (FLW) 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 in 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 on February 8 and March 29 (additional dates to follow). To register or learn more, please contact virginia@theopma.ca. Updates will also be made as the project progresses at theopma.ca.

Virginia Zimm, President
The Ontario Produce Marketing Association
Tel: 416-519-9390 

Publication date: 1/18/2017


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