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USDA Sustainable Packaging Innovation Lab grants open

Citing the need for the specialty crop industry to develop innovative solutions to emerging overseas packaging and labeling regulatory requirements, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service recently announced the availability of up to $5 million in grant opportunities via the Assisting Specialty Crops Exports initiative (ASCE).

"We've seen onerous packaging regulations enacted in both Canada and Europe, with little regard to current industry practices," said IFPA chief science officer Dr. Max Teplitski. "This level of funding mechanism exclusive to the fresh produce and floral industry is rare and is something IFPA doggedly advocated for on our members' behalf. Industry companies can participate by partnering with universities, so I would invite any IFPA members interested in pursuing this opportunity to contact us to discuss how to access these funds."

Dr. Max Teplitski

Specifically, the funding is for research and commercialization of innovative alternatives to single-use plastic packaging, which are the targets of bans in Canada and the European Union unless a compromise is reached, or policymakers change course. The deadline to apply for ASCE grants is July 17, with additional details available via the Notice of Funding Opportunity.

"At a time when consumers worldwide aren't eating enough fresh produce, our industry does not need the additional hurdle of these packaging rules – which will compromise food safety, quality, and increase food waste," Teplitski noted. "IFPA and our partners in the Alliance for the Sustainable Packaging for Food will continue the fight to see these barriers removed."

In addition to connecting members to opportunities like these ASCE grants, IFPA will explore the crossroads of packaging and sustainability at its upcoming Washington Conference, where Teplitski will be joined by packaging experts for a discussion of global sustainable packaging, what's new, what's next, and how IFPA is working to lead and shape the debate on sustainable packaging to help members advocate on this topic with knowledge and confidence.

The organization also continues with industry initiatives and conversations around sustainability and climate. IFPA recently announced its third cohort of the Fresh Field Catalyst technology accelerator program (focused on climate-smart solutions), is seeing several field trials of its Climate-Smart: A Vibrant Future pilot projects get underway, and continues its work leading the GFSI Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative working group focused on environmental benchmarks.

For more information:
Ashley Sempowski
International Fresh Produce Association
[email protected]

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