Canadian Food Business Summer 2022

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» The science of food and beverage ISSUE 2 • 2022

Putting Genetics on the table

Looking for answers to climate change and food security

THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY OF PLASTICS

Hidden Treasure in Waste


EDITOR'S NOTE

PUBLISHER & CEO

Christopher J. Forbes cforbes@jesmar.com

MANAGING EDITOR

Jana Manolakos jmanolakos@dvtail.com

COPY EDITOR

Mitchell Brown

CONTRIBUTORS

Nathalie Dreifelds Pierre Petelle Carol Zweep

ART DIRECTOR

Charlene Everest ceverest@dvtail.com

SECRETARY/ TREASURER

Susan A. Browne

MARKETING MANAGER

Stephanie Wilson swilson@jesmar.com

PRODUCTION MANAGER

Crystal Himes chimes@jesmar.com

CANADIAN FOOD BUSINESS ADVISORY COMMITTEE Marcia English, Associate Professor, St. Francis Xavier University Michael Nickerson, Saskatchewan Research Chair and Professor, University of Saskatchewan Hosahalli Ramaswamy, Professor, McGill University Amanda Wright, Association Professor, University of Guelph

CANADIAN FOOD BUSINESS

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s the planet’s population grows, scientists are scrambling to find better ways to produce enough food. With more than 7.753 billion mouths to feed, researchers are managing to move the needle on food production, but their efforts are being hampered by climate change which has upped the ante. Catastrophic flooding and drought, diseased livestock and stressed crops, a loss of arable land, higher carbon dioxide levels and hotter temperatures have made feeding the world a problem of colossal proportions. For some Canadian food producers, genomics may offer hope. Manipulating the genes of crops and livestock to build their resiliency and yield will play an increasingly important role in bolstering global and local food system. In Canada, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are carefully monitored and must meet stringent requirements; to date, Canada has approved 15 GM foods including four that are grown in Canada (canola, soybeans, corn and sugar beets) as well as GM foods that have been imported from other countries (alfalfa, cotton, papaya and squash). In this issue of Canadian Food Business, we look at how GMO foods contribute to the food supply in the age of climate change and we feature an expert on managing plastics through a circular economy. We also learn how to make the most of waste produce and hear how a leading genomics technology company has introduced a mobile testing device aimed at improving the detection of foodborne pathogenic bacteria like listeria and salmonella. The solution to the world’s food supply may very well live in a tiny sequence of genetic material. Finally, don’t miss our fall issue of Canadian Food Business which dives into the world of functional foods with the latest research into phytochemicals, bio-oils, developments of new products with health benefits, and enhancement of food antioxidant capacity.

Jana Manolakos

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GENES AND THE BIG BANG

Printed in Canada

In 2022 the Canadian Institute of Food Science & Technology (CIFST) and Canadian Food Business magazine launched a partnership to create a platform for leading experts, innovators and scientists to showcase the latest trends, knowledge and developments that are changing the face of Canada’s food industry today. For further information contact sbrowne@dvtail.com


inside FEATURES

A LOOK AT MANAGING 34 PLASTICS IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY THROUGH INNOVATION

40 feature

38 NEW VINELAND REPORT FINDS IN WASTE PRODUCE A TASTE OF…

standard GUEST EDITORIAL 28 NEWS BITES 30 FOODWARE 43

RESEARCH PROVES CONSUMING DIET SODA LEADS TO WEIGHT LOSS B I O L A B M AG.C O M

42 A RAPID, HYPER-SENSITIVE MOBILE TESTING DEVICE TAKES DETECTING FOODBORNE PATHOGENS TO A NEW LEVEL

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GUEST EDITORIAL

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Engineering solutions to

Food Security By Pierre Petelle, President & CEO, CropLife Canada

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he past few years have seen considerable public discourse about the challenges facing our planet. While the COVID-19 pandemic garnered most of the attention, concerns around food security are increasing and we are faced with an important question: how will we feed a growing global population amidst a warming climate? Technology and innovation are essential parts of the equation. One set of tools in particular, plant breeding innovations, presents incredible opportunities to enhance the sustainability and resiliency of agricultural production around the world.

Scientific tools with significant impact

Humans have been breeding plants for more than 10,000 years, selecting varieties of crops that performed well or had desirable characteristics (e.g. tasted better, larger kernels, etc.). Traditional plant breeding results in a random crossing of genetic material between the two parent plants in hopes that some of the offspring will be successful, however there is little control over the result. Over time, the processes for making tweaks to improve crops have improved and diversified with new science and technology. There are now a number of plant breeding innovations that scientists and plant breeders can access. The most commonly discussed type is genetic engineering, which produces genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Genetic engineering


GUEST EDITORIAL

is the process of very precisely moving favourable genes from one organism to another. Regulatory agencies and other groups around the world, including Health Canada, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization all consider crops developed through genetic modification to be as safe as traditional crops. Now there is a newer plant breeding technology called gene editing, which includes techniques like CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats). CRISPR allows researchers to cut or edit out certain pieces of a plant’s own DNA in order to add, remove or enhance a desired characteristic. It holds such potential that its developers were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Both genetic modification and gene editing present incredible opportunities to benefit people and the planet. Farmers in Canada first started using GMOs in 1996. Since then, these farmers have benefited from growing GMOs such as corn, canola and soybeans that are resistant to insects and herbicides. Consequently, farmers can keep their plants healthier and improve the yield of their crops. These GMO crops have reduced the need for tillage as a form of weed control on tens of millions of acres of land, resulting in improved soil quality, significantly increased carbon sequestration and reduced greenhouse gas emissions from machinery.

experiencing food insecurity (FAO, 2022). That number could swell to 840 million by 2030 if current trends continue. Technologies like GMOs and gene editing will be crucial in moving toward the UN Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger. Numerous examples of plants developed for improved nutrition already exist. Genetic modification created the vitamin A-enhanced golden rice and omega-3 soybeans. Scientists are using gene editing to develop heart-healthy tomatoes, high-fibre wheat and nutrient-dense lettuce. The precision with which these nutrition-related traits can be harnessed presents opportunities to address the widespread global issue of malnutrition. But perhaps most exciting is that tools like gene editing can accomplish the research and development for these crops in a fraction of the time needed for traditional breeding. Given that our population is expected to increase by another 2 billion people by 2050, there is no time to waste. It is also important to note that GMOs and gene-edited crops can play a role in reducing food waste. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that one-third of all the food produced globally is lost or wasted each year, contributing to 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Plant breeding innovations can help decrease those numbers, and also reduce the cost implications along the supply chain. For example, potatoes that are resistant to browning and bruising can lessen the estimated 400 million pounds of potatoes that are thrown away every year.

Genetic engineering is the process of very precisely moving favourable genes from one organism to another.

As the real effects of climate change create challenging growing conditions, plant breeding innovations are driving the development of more resilient crops. Scientists have developed varieties of plants that are better able to survive and thrive under flood or drought, or to resist disease. Such developments help to provide a more predictable harvest to feed a growing population. Recently in Canada, we’ve seen devastating droughts, floods and extreme weather events that have significantly impacted farmers’ ability to grow food. Outside of Canada’s borders, we see the same kinds of challenges that make agricultural production more unpredictable than ever. While weather is a variable outside of anyone’s control, what we do have some control over is embracing innovations that lead to heartier crops, helping protect our food supply in the face of challenging weather conditions.

Improved nutrition for a growing population

According to the United Nations, almost 9% of the world’s population (approximately 690 million people) are

Enabling a path forward for innovation

The agriculture and food system in Canada is innovative, productive and responsive, and access to tools like genetic modification and gene editing can help our country play a leading role in a bright future for our planet. But in order to truly unleash the potential of these kinds of innovations, we need to ensure Canada’s regulatory system continues its robust protection for human and environmental health, while also relying on science to deliver policies that enable this kind of much needed innovation to come to the market in Canada. With global food security at the forefront like never before, we need to be embracing these technologies now to deliver important benefits for tomorrow. Pierre Petelle is the president and CEO of CropLife Canada, the trade association that represents the Canadian manufacturers, developers and distributors of pest control products and plants with novel traits. Pierre joined CropLife Canada in 2008 and is now responsible for the strategic direction and leadership of the association.

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Increasing resiliency in unpredictable conditions

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NEWS BITES

Funding solutions that mitigate the effects of climate change on agri-food systems

Ocean Brands adds to its sustainability portfolio

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With more voices calling for better sustainability standards in the seafood industry, Ocean Brands recently announced its Ocean’s Skipjack Tuna is now 100% Marine Stewardship Council-certified sustainable. With this addition, Ocean Brands has now increased the MSC-certified segment of its Ocean’s portfolio from 11% in 2021 to 70%, a move that has pushed it into the lead for MSC-certified products in Canada’s canned seafood category. Data shows the planet could provide protein for 72 million additional people if oceans were fished sustainably on the whole. That’s according to the MSC, an international non-profit organization that works closely with experts to uphold the seafood industry’s highest standards of sustainability. Consumers can easily identify certified sustainable seafood by looking for the MSC blue fish label, which signals that it has met the council’s strict criteria. “There is still so much work to do when it comes to managing our fisheries. As we take from our natural environment, we also have an obligation and a commitment to ensure the vitality of our oceans for years to come,” says Ian Ricketts, President of Ocean Brands. “Our long-standing partnership with MSC and the certification of our Ocean’s Skipjack Tuna are a testament to how we are investing back into the management of the fisheries that are depended upon by so many nations. We applaud those who have taken these steps towards sustainability before us, and we look forward to other brands making this same commitment. Our collective efforts are needed to secure the future of our oceans.” The MSC represents the industry’s highest standard of sustainability. It meets globally recognized best practice standards and its ecolabel has the highest rate of recognition among consumers. Purchasers of MSC-labelled seafood can rest assured that it was sustainably wild-caught and fully verified to come from a certified fishery. By choosing products with this label, consumers are directly supporting fisheries and companies that take care of our oceans.

Genome Canada recently launched a $24-million funding opportunity to support the development of genomic solutions to climate change challenges faced by agriculture and food production systems. The Climate Action Genomics Initiative funding involves teams of researchers from different disciplines and users working together to resolve issues related to the carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions of Canada’s agriculture and food systems. As part of the initiative portfolio, the teams will work toward broader national impacts that deliver value beyond each individual project. The teams will provide genomic solutions for agriculture and food production systems that are climateresilient, socially responsible, economically viable and environmentally sustainable, and that contribute to the mitigation of climate change impacts.

Consumers remain confident in Canada's agriculture and food sectors Foodbanks Canada and Grassroots Public Affairs teamed up for an online survey that measured public opinion about Canada’s agri-food sector. The survey found that as the country emerges from the pandemic, almost half of Canadians believe very strongly in the sector’s ability to drive the Canadian economy. While Canadians remain extremely confident (92%) in food grown or produced at home, recent price increases are driving some interesting shifts in consumer habits and attitudes. 71% of Canadians are opting for discounted or lower-cost items, up by one-third since 2020. More than eight in 10 (84%) see hunger and food insecurity in Canada as a serious problem, a 25% increase since 2021. Half of them (51%) noted that animal proteins are "significantly" more expensive this year, and yet red meat consumption is slowly on the rise, a 2% increase since 2021. The Canadawide survey was conducted via an online panel of 1,007 Canadians aged 18 and over. Fieldwork for the survey took place March 25-31, and the survey was offered in English and French.


NEWS BITES

Black energy drink

Known for its bright colours, Gatorade has launched a new Canadian sports beverage called Gatorade Black Ice. It features a new, limited-time flavor in a dramatic black drink. Launched in South America earlier this year, the beverage is making its North American debut exclusively in Canada for a limited time this summer. It was made available at most major convenience stores across Canada starting the week of April 25. “Gatorade’s mission of fuelling excellence in sport continues through innovations like Gatorade Black Ice, providing competitive athletes with new and exciting flavours and colours that stand out in the hydration category,” said Lourdes Seminario, Senior Marketing Director, Hydration at PepsiCo Beverages Canada.

Cascades recently introduced a 100% recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) tray that is also recyclable. As an alternative to hard-torecycle food packaging like traditional styrofoam trays, Cascade’s innovative design allows it to be compatible with the packaging equipment already used by food processors and retailers. It took three years of research to develop its unique design that allows for minimal use of materials while ensuring optimal rigidity. Its rolled edges reduce the risk of tearing when using shrink-wrap, helping to prevent food waste. The tray is manufactured in Québec at the Cascades Inopak plant, which has benefited from an investment program of more than $30 million aimed at supporting the development of packaging made from 100% recycled PET flakes.

Taylor Farms opens Toronto production facility

Canobi AgTech has teamed with AgriTech North to solve the food security crisis in 600 rural and remote communities across Canada's North through local indoor agriculture. AgriTech North is a wholesale-scale, year-round grower of fresh produce in Northwestern Ontario. They are validating a stack of technologies to resolve economic viability issues surrounding the production of food crops in the North. “Due to our very challenging environment, we need capabilities that growing systems don't have natively,” says AgriTech North CEO Benjamin Feagin, Jr. The AgriTech North facility in Dryden, Ont., will become a centre of excellence for indoor farming technology innovation in Northwestern Ontario, producing up to 450 kg of leafy greens, culinary herbs and small fruiting crops every week. Canobi AgTech installed a nutrient dosing system, control system, sensors and monitoring system in AgriTech’s pilot indoor vertical farm. “Because Canobi’s innovative technologies are system-agnostic, they can work with any hardware and plug into any system,” explained Canobi CEO Robin Vincent. As AgriTech North expands to serve more rural communities, they will use Canobi’s platform to monitor their remote sites and help keep their energy and resource usage down. Canobi’s systems will help reduce the farm's water usage to 10% of that required in conventional farming. “We need to find ways to grow food where people need it, using less energy and fewer inputs,” says Robin Vincent. “Canobi’s technology can help any farm do that by supplying the data to pinpoint problems and providing innovative solutions to solve them.”

Taylor Farms, a North American producer of salads, fresh-cut vegetables and healthy prepared fresh foods has opened a new facility in Toronto. With production focused on the retail product portfolio, Canadian customers will now have access to an array of the fresh products like Taylor Farms Chopped Salad Kits and Earthbound Farm Organic Salads. “We have seen explosive growth in Canada over the last five years, and with this new location we’re able to address that demand by producing and delivering the freshest and most flavorful foods to our customers,” said Kevin Silver, General Manager of Taylor Farms Canada.

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Cascades expands its eco-friendly packaging

Canobi AgTech teams up with AgriTech for food security across Canada’s North

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2022 FCC Food Industry Report: Growth amid inflationary pressures The annual FCC Food Report reviews last year’s economic environment and highlights opportunities and risks for Canadian food manufacturers for 2022. This includes an annual sales forecast, grocery sales performance and a new gross margin index.

Industries featured in the report are: • • • • • •

Grain and oilseed milling Sugar and confectionery products Fruit, vegetable and specialty food Dairy products Meat products Seafood preparation

Figure 1: Gross margins grew in 2021 but remain below historical levels 102

1. Industry gross margins bounced back in 2021 but remain below historical levels Gross margins as a percent of sales in food manufacturing increased in 2021 YoY but remain below historical levels and below 2019 (Figure 1). Manufacturers have struggled to fully pass on higher labour and material costs for almost a decade. But margins improved slightly in 2021. At the individual industry level, results widely differ, which we dive into in the report.

95.1

95.0 93.6

92

88

Three key observations from this year’s report:

95.1

94

Beverage manufacturers, we didn’t forget about you. We will be releasing a separate beverage report later this year.

to be strong.

95.4

96

• Bakery and tortilla products

Several external factors impacted Canadian food industries in 2021, which have resulted in higher input costs, amplified labour shortages and upended food consumption patterns. In early 2021, there was hope that the pandemic could soon be behind us; however, new variants provoked more disruptions, restrictions and uncertainty. Despite these challenges, food manufacturers’ performance proved

99.4

98

90

Takeaways

100.0

100

93.1

90.2

86 84

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

Source: Statistics Canada, FCC Economics

2. Food manufacturing sector to outperform the overall economy Food manufacturing sales increased 14.8% YoY to $125 billion in 2021 (Table 1). This is the strongest YoY sales growth in recorded history (starting in 1992). Increased foodservice volumes and higher selling prices offset volume declines at grocery stores. Food manufacturing sales are projected to increase 7.4% in 2022, driven by: • Historically strong disposable income and accumulated savings in 2021 • Food prices remaining elevated • Robust export markets with food exports representing an estimated 36.8% of overall sales


Figure 2: Most manufactured food consumed in Canada is made

Table 1: Manufacturing sales and exports grew in 2021 All figures in million $ Food manufacturing sales

2021

YoY% change

2020

YoY% change

125,226

14.8

109,104

2.1

Food exports

46,063

16.9

39,417

5.1

Food imports

31,828

3.4

30,786

5.5

in Canada Imports percent of domestic consumption 100 90

Seafood

80 Sugar/confection 70 Food trade balance

14,234

64.9

8,631

3.7

Grocery & specialty food retail sales

116,650

0.4

116,134

10.9

Restaurant retail sales

26,609

23.6

21,525

-37.2

40

Fast food retail sales

33,397

15.6

28,902

-14.3

30

3,921

19.1

3,292

-47.8

20

180,342

6.2

169,853

-5.4

Fruit/Vegetable and speciality

60 50

Grain and oilseed milling Other

Specialty food service sales Total estimated food retail sales Source: Statistics Canada

3. Consumption of Canadian manufactured food climbed in 2021 The total share of domestically manufactured food consumed in Canada increased an estimated 1.9% after declining for two straight years. The combination of ‘buy local’ trends and domestic investments boosted Canadian sales. The share of imports relative to consumption as opposed to the share of exports relative to manufacturing sales within an industry provides information about the domestic vs foreign emphasis of manufacturers (Figure 2). Sales within the dairy manufacturing industry almost entirely occur within Canada. Under 10% of the value of dairy manufacturing sales are exported, and under 10% of Canadian consumption is of imported products. On the other end of the spectrum, seafood is more of a global industry. Over 90% of the sales value were exported, and the percent of imported product consumed was also over 90%. Overall, there’s a lot of two-way trade in the Canadian food industry. For example, nearly 50% of sales in fruit, vegetable and specialty food manufacturing is exported while an equivalent share of domestic consumption is imported.

Food Bakeries Meat Dairy

10 0

0

10

20

30 40 50 60 70 80 Exports percent of manufacturing sales

90

100

The bottom line Economic conditions are evolving rapidly. The labour market continues to be a challenge, and inflationary pressures continue to climb. War in Eastern Europe and economic sanctions also pose a risk to global economic growth, creating food shortages in many countries that depend on commodities from this region, potentially causing a food crisis for millions. Stronger disposable income and higher savings in 2021 will support 2022 domestic food consumption growth, although inflation is diminishing many households’ purchasing power. Margin growth will depend on several factors, the biggest being the COVID pandemic’s evolution and how businesses adapt to interest rates increases and input costs. Read the full report at fcc.ca/FoodReport Kyle Burak, Senior Economist


FEATURE

THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY OF PLASTICS CANADIAN FOOD BUSINESS VO L U M E 3 6, I S S U E 4 • 2 0 2 2

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A LOOK AT MANAGING PLASTICS IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY THROUGH INNOVATION By Carol Zweep

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lastic waste is a global issue. When plastic is released into the environment outside a managed waste stream, it becomes pollution. Plastic pollution found in waterways and oceans causes harm to wildlife. According to Plastic Oceans, more than 10 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into oceans every year and 1 million marine animals die every year when they become entangled in plastic or mistake it for food. Plastics have many desirable properties as a packaging material: they are durable, strong, lightweight, waterresistant, and relatively easy and inexpensive to manufacture. Unfortunately, plastics in the environment degrade very slowly.

Although excessive use of plastic packaging is concerning, some form of packaging is often necessary to maintain the hygiene or freshness of food or to maintain the integrity of a product during storage and distribution. Finding alternatives to plastic that combines all the desirable properties the material offers can be challenging. In Canada, over 3 million tonnes of plastic waste are thrown away every year. With only 9% of plastic waste being recycled, most of the plastic ends up in landfills. Up to 15 billion plastic bags are used every year and close to 57 million straws are used daily.


FEATURE

As part of Canada’s plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030, the Government of Canada will require all plastic packaging in Canada to contains at least 50% recycled content.

TIPS FOR MAKING THE MOST OF PLASTIC PACKAGING FRONT-END DESIGN Packages should be designed to eliminate problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging. The materials and components (e.g. labels, closures, sleeve, etc.) should be selected to ensure packages can be reused, recycled or composted. The Golden Design Rules developed by the Consumer Goods Forum provide guidelines on which plastics should be primarily used for packaging and address specific design elements. The purpose is to maximize recovery of recyclable materials and increase the value of plastics in the marketplace. COLLECTION Development and investment are required in collection systems to enable convenient and necessary recovery of waste. Rural and remote communities, residential buildings and businesses pose collection challenges. Extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs are recognized as one of the most effective mechanisms to support the creation of a circular economy. EPR is a strategy to make the producer (i.e., brand owners, first importers or manufacturers) responsible for the waste management costs of their packaging and shift it away from municipalities and taxpayers. EPR programs also incentivize producers to change packaging design to support waste reduction, reuse and recycling activities.

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The Canada-Wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste was introduced by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) in November 2018. This strategy was built on the Ocean Plastics Charter and takes a circular economy approach to plastics, providing a framework for action. Currently, plastic material flows are largely linear. The circular economy aims to keep products and materials in use for as long as possible and closes the loop in the use of natural resources by reducing, reusing, repairing, remanufacturing, recycling and composting materials, and by recovering energy at end-of-life. To support the Zero Plastic Waste Strategy and promote the circular economy, the Government of Canada published the Single-Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations on June 22, 2022. The regulation prohibits the manufacture, import and sale of single-use plastic checkout bags, cutlery, foodservice ware made from or containing problematic plastics, ring carriers, stir sticks and straws. Single-use plastics are found in the environment and often not recycled, but viable alternatives are available. On February 12, 2022, the Government of Canada published a Notice of Intent and a technical issues paper on the development of proposed regulations that would set minimum recycled content requirements for certain plastic manufactured items. As part of Canada’s plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030, the Government of Canada will require all plastic packaging in Canada to contains at least 50% recycled content.

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FEATURE

PARTICIPATION AND ENGAGEMENT Two key ways of increasing the capture of recyclables are raising consumer awareness and inspiring participation in sustainable practices, including behavioral changes around recycling. Other means to improve engagement include the education of youth by providing information on plastics to teachers to incorporate into school programs. Leading initiatives and encouraging good waste management practices at businesses, organizations and institutions will also improve recyclable material capture. SORTING Technology is used to sort and maximize the capture of recyclable plastics in an efficient manner. Advances in technology include robotic recycling sorting that uses artificial intelligence and robotics to sort plastics. PROCESSING The expansion of facilities for easy-to-recycle products and capacity to deal with plastics not currently recycled in Canada is required. Scaling solutions of advanced recovery and recycling methods, including both mechanical and chemical recycling, is also needed.

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END MARKETS Seeking opportunities and markets for commonly recycled plastics as well as contaminated and hard-to-recycle plastics will drive the recycling business. Challenges include virgin resins that are available at lower prices than recycled resins. Diverse measures are needed to increase the supply, demand and quality of recycled plastics. There are, however, a few important considerations. New packaging will need to meet municipalities’ infrastructure for recyclability and composability, which varies from region to region across the country. This requires food and beverage companies to consider how the change in materials or design of the package will affect their product. Specifically: • If new materials are used, they will need assurance of safety for food contact. • Change in material should not impart taste and odor to the product or appreciably affect its shelf life. • The redesigned package will need to withstand applicable thermal processing conditions and the rigors of handling, transportation and storage. • Lastly, presentation — and ensuring consumer-friendly use and acceptance of the new package — is critical for its success.

Carol Zweep is Manager of Consulting and Technical Services for NSF Canada. Contact her at czweep@nsf.org.

Plastic packaging

GAME CHANGERS & BARRIER BREAKERS In recent years, several solutions have been introduced to address the challenges presented by plastic waste. Edible and biodegradable packaging: Ooho is made from brown seaweed, a renewable natural resource. It is safe for consumption and can replace plastic single-use beverage bottles, cups, and condiment sachets. Elimination of plastic packaging: Apeel is a plant-derived coating for fruit and vegetables that slows water loss and oxidation. It extends shelflife without the need for plastic packaging, such as shrink-wrap on fruit and vegetables. Reusable Takeout Container: Friendlier has designed a system with the circular economy in mind. After use, its entire takeout container can be returned to Friendlier collection bins, where the package is picked up, washed, sanitized and redistributed to create a closed loop system. At the end of its life, the polypropylene container can be recycled. Recyclable Meat Tray: Klockner Pentaplast has developed a unique design for the bottom of the meat tray. This tray traps and retains liquid and keeps it away from the meat at any angle. This feature eliminates the use of an absorbent pad and improves the quality of the product while also providing clear product visibility. The PET (polyethylene terephthalate) tray has recycled content and is recyclable. Compostable Packaging: Given the challenging nature of recycling single-use plasticbased coffee pods, composting is a preferred


FEATURE

Increasing recycling rate: A relatively new innovation on the scene is digital watermarking technology, which enables a much higher sorting and recycling capture rate for packaging and helps reduce waste. Digimarc technology works by modifying the pixels of the packaging to carry an imperceptible code that is undetectable to the consumer but can be picked up by cameras, such as one installed on a sorting line at a waste management facility. Digimarc has been used for Procter & Gamble’s Lenor Fabric Softener but has applications for food packaging as well. Processing of Recycled Plastic: Ice River is a bottled water company that uses post-consumer PET from bottles and thermoform clamshell packaging to make new food

containers and water bottles. The material is collected from municipal recycling facilities across Canada and the Northern U.S. Post-consumer material is often contaminated and requires rigorous purification to make food grade recycled plastic. Hard-to-Recycle Plastics: Companies are diverting hard-torecycle plastics into other non-food products. For example, the recycling service company Firstar Fiber Corporation (Firstar) is working to transform hard-to-recycle plastic waste into value-added products, such as plastic lumber for use in decking and furniture. Also, CRDC Global announced scale solutions for converting hard-to-recycle plastic waste into a concrete additive for building and construction applications. Innovative packaging solutions will require development activities, pilot evaluations and scale-up exercises at each step within the supply chain and at the end of life. Expanding citizen awareness, increasing collection and diversion of plastic waste are also key elements of the circular economy. The Zero-Plastic Waste action plan is ambitious. Collaborative efforts and support from government, industry and citizens are critical to achieving a circular economy that keeps plastic out of the environment.

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alternative and one recently explored by Nabob and Maxwell House brands, which developed a zero-waste solution for the entire package. All of the pod components, including the lids, rings and filter, along with the used coffee grounds, are compostable. The pods successfully break down real world-tested in a variety of composting conditions and processes. Additionally, the bag that holds the coffee pods is also compostable and the carton is recyclable.

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FEATURE

New report finds

hidden treasure in waste produce

By Nathalie Dreifelds CANADIAN FOOD BUSINESS VO L U M E 3 6, I S S U E 4 • 2 0 2 2

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n Leamington, Ont., the greenhouse capital of North America, approximately 6.8 million kg pounds of edible tomatoes and 5.4 million kg of cucumber grade-outs are discarded annually. It’s just one example in a new report by the Lincoln, Ont.-based Vineland Research and Innovation Centre that suggests fruits and vegetables are missing out on the valueadd of waste produce, not the least of which is the impact on the environment. “The greenhouse tomato and cucumber sector, along with fruit and vegetable processing, have ample volumes of underutilized streams,” says the study’s lead, Alexandra Grygorczyk, Vineland’s Research Scientist, Sensory & Consumer Services. “These have potential, when managed differently, to help organizations reach environmental sustainability targets and generate better returns from valueadded products.” Approximately one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption is wasted. Among these, fruits and vegetables have the highest wastage rates with 40% to 50% of products produced being thrown away, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization. In Canada, approximately 74% of produce is wasted

before it reaches consumers, a total of nearly six million metric tonnes of fruit and vegetable waste. Two-thirds of this waste is categorized as avoidable waste, the result of operational or market factors such as a breakdown in sellerbuyer relationships, an oversupply, or excess food that wasn’t donated due to a vendor agreement. One-third of that total, considered unavoidable because of current processing and grading standards, generates expenses for producers and processors who must dispose of it in landfills, ship it to neighbouring livestock farms or allow it to decompose on unused plots of land. The report, titled Underutilized byproduct streams from the Canadian horticulture value chain, suggests that these massive amounts of wasted yet potentially edible products could be reduced or eliminated by changing management practices to retain value in the byproducts streams and transform the waste products into new products or divert them to industries better suited to transforming them. Besides the economic factor, changing local regulations and an increasing focus on environmental sustainability are driving interest in finding new solutions to managing byproduct streams. To tackle this issue and help increase the industry’s


environmental sustainability, Vineland examined do not require a great deal of capital investment. For those underutilized waste streams for the top seven Canadian producers and processors seeking higher returns and willing produce crops (potatoes, apples, field tomatoes, greenhouse to invest in processing, there are many other options to tomatoes, greenhouse cucumbers, onions and carrots) and consider. identified the range of opportunities for managing these. Fruit and vegetable streams are rich in nutritional and “We interviewed over 40 companies across the functional compounds that may be of interest to the food horticulture and food value chain to identify underutilized industry (e.g., pectin/starch, antioxidants, colours, enzymes) byproducts, better understand trends or agricultural industry (e.g., organic driving product formulation, and find matter and minerals). The byproduct gaps in the ingredient market that could streams have the potential to be converted be filled through the transformation of by various means including drying and More than 15 million waste,” says Grygorczyk. “We found not milling to produce powders, dehydration pounds of greenhouse all sectors have similar levels of waste to produce concentrates, extrusion to tomatoes with minor ,although those producing the most produce dried pellets or snacks, and cosmetic defects are waste are actively looking for the right extraction of valuable components, landfilled annually solutions.” among others. Fresh market field crops including Clean label, which is the reformulation apples, carrots, potatoes, onions and of food products to have fewer and more tomatoes result in limited waste as nearly easily recognizable ingredients with all edible seconds are sold for further processing. fewer allergens or additives, is a major trend driving current Although the waste is limited, many growers are interested food product reformulations. Fruit and vegetable-derived in more profitable options for their byproducts. For example, food ingredients have the potential to bring many different a lot of apple growers sell their lowest grades of apples to functionalities to products (e.g., shelf-life extension, natural processing for break-even prices just to not lose money. But if colour, thickening, sweetening) while fitting within clean they could divert those apples elsewhere for better returns— label constraints. just as some already are by producing apple chips—they Alternatively, these streams may be converted for use in the would be happy to do that. cosmetics industry (e.g., skin creams), materials engineering However, since no processing market exists for greenhouse (e.g., car tires, packaging films) and for agricultural tomatoes and cucumbers, edible products with any amount of applications (e.g., compost, substrate mixes, biofertilizer). discoloration or other cosmetic defect are either landfilled or Fruit and vegetable byproduct streams have a great allowed to decompose near the greenhouse. deal of potential to not only be managed differently to help The processing sector generates a substantial volume of organizations reach environmental sustainability targets, unavoidable waste when potatoes, apples, field tomatoes, but also to produce value-added products that bring better carrots, and onions are processed into products that are returns to Canadian producers and processors. chopped, sliced, frozen, fried, juiced or pureed. The report, co-written by Grygorczyk and Amy Blake, The study also offers solutions to managing diversion. can be downloaded here. Their research was supported by Established popular solutions involve the direct use of raw the Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program material for boosting soil nutrients, or shipping to livestock (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada), Martin’s Family Fruit farms or biodigesters. These produce minimal or negative Farms and the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the returns but are simple to execute, carry minimal risk and Partnership), a five-year initiative.

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FEATURE

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FEATURE

PROOF THAT DIET SODA

ACTUALLY LEADS TO REDUCED CALORIE COUNTS IN A MEAL

S

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ome consumers go to fast food outlets and order high-calorie meals like cheeseburgers and fries before choosing a diet soda to go with their meal. But are they really saving on calories? Or do those low-cal drinks encourage them to buy more fattening foods? Some studies suggest that people may experience the “Big Mac and Diet Coke effect” where they justify ordering bigger burgers, larger fries, or a dessert because they consider some part of their meal healthier. Meanwhile, others have shown that ordering diet pop can encourage better habits, or at least reduce the overall caloric load. According to a new study from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, on average those diet drinks really do result in a significantly lower calorie count. For the study titled “Do Consumers Order More Calories in a Meal with a Diet or Regular Soft Drink? An Empirical Investigation Using LargeScale Field Data,” researchers used data from Canada-wide consumer surveys conducted between 2000 and 2007 that included peoples’ “food away from home” meal consumption. Because McDonald’s makes its


FEATURE

nutritional information (including calorie counts) widely available, and because its offerings are consistent across the country, the team homed in on the consumer data involving McDonald’s meals specifically, then merged it with the fast food chain’s calorie information. In total, they examined roughly 9,000 McDonald’s meals involving more than 2,000 people. Of those, roughly 64% of those surveyed ordered regular soft drinks, 20% ordered diet pop, and the remaining 16% went back and forth between the two. The researchers also focused on more calorie-rich meals (lunches and dinners) and on larger drinks (medium or large) because they would more clearly demonstrate the caloric gulf between those who ordered diet and those who chose sugary sodas. Because the data spanned seven years, they could also see patterns in buying behaviours. “For a particular person, we might see five, six, seven occasions, and we could see what their individual patterns were,” says UBC Sauder Professor Emeritus Charles Weinberg, who co-authored the study with Amazon Inc. Research Scientist Sina Ghotbi and University of Guelph Associate Professor Tirtha Dhar. “So, we could control for individual effects.” After crunching the numbers, the researchers found no evidence that consumers use diet drinks to justify other indulgences. In fact, after controlling for drink size and consumer demographics, they found that people who bought diet drinks had significantly lower overall calorie counts: 298 fewer calories for those who ordered a large diet drink — or 18 fewer tsp. of sugar — and 156 fewer calories for those ordering a medium (about 10 tsp.). What’s more, the total food calories they ordered did not go up when they ordered a diet drink. The research marks the first field study to examine whether “Big Mac and Diet Coke” behaviour leads to greater calorie

consumption. “We’re looking at the actual behaviour, not why people engage in it,” says Weinberg. “So, we’re focused on what people actually do.” At first blush, the question might seem lighthearted, but in reality it’s serious business, especially given that the obesity crisis in the United States has worsened dramatically — from 12% of U.S. adults in 1990-1991 to 42.4% in 2017-2018 — and the consumption of sugary, high-calorie sodas is considered to be a major factor. What’s more, 85 million Americans — or 37% of the population — dine at a fast food restaurant per day. Weinberg emphasizes that from a health perspective, drinking water with a meal is still the healthiest option, but for consumers who are set on soda, diet pop might represent a healthier alternative than sugary drinks. As a result, Weinberg says health authorities may want to rethink their advice on soft drinks. It’s not that they should necessarily advise people to drink diet sodas, but they may not want to caution against it — and making diet soft drinks more available could form part of an effective harm-reduction strategy. “People like going to fast food restaurants, and in the obesity crisis one of the main culprits is people having added sugars in their meals,” says Weinberg. “If you’re a person who likes to have carbonated soft drinks and you’re not willing to switch to water, this seems to be an intermediate step you can take.” In the meantime, he says consumers should understand the impact of their decisions. “People make choices. There are going to be people who say, ‘I prefer the taste of regular soda and I want to enjoy it,’” says Weinberg. “It’s not like you have to give up every pleasure. But you should know in terms of calories what that pleasure is, and what it’s costing you, then make the choice.”

C A N A D I A N F O O D B U S I N E S S.C O M

Health authorities may want to rethink their advice on soft drinks. It’s not that they should necessarily advise people to drink diet sodas, but they may not want to caution against it

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A TASTE OF...

FOOD DETECTION IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND CANADIAN FOOD BUSINESS VO L U M E 3 6, I S S U E 4 • 2 0 2 2

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enomics industry expert Precision Biomonitoring is developing a rapid, highly sensitive and mobile testing device aimed at improving the detection of foodborne pathogenic bacteria like listeria and salmonella, particularly in leafy greens. With a grant from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) through the Innovative Solutions Canada Program, Project Bistro aims to offer technology that is even more sensitive than what is currently on the market to food producers, farming and agriculture operations, distribution centres and large-scale grocers. "As foodborne illnesses rise, it will be important that Canada is equipped with the innovative tools and resources that will enable bacteria detection before products reach stores and consumers," says Precision Biomonitoring CEO Mario Thomas. "We are looking forward to being able to potentially

improve foodborne illness detection that will ensure the health and safety of Canadians." Project Bistro is an ultra-portable, low-cost platform that uses onsite sample preparation tools to extract nucleic acids from various contaminated sample types. Using highly sensitive amplification coupled with digital lateral flow devices, the device will be able to deliver reliable detection results in less than two hours. Project Bistro is an adaptation of Precision Biomonitoring’s TripleLock device, which was approved by Health Canada for rapid testing of COVID-19. "If successful, a portable tool like this could help reduce the risk in the food supply by detecting foodborne pathogens throughout the farm-to-fork continuum," says Tammy Switucha, Chief Food Safety Officer for Canada and Executive Director, Food Safety and Consumer Protection Directorate, CFIA.


FOOD WARE

Award-winning plate reader 3M Food Safety was named a 2022 Edison Awards gold winner in the Commercial Technology category for its 3M Petrifilm Plate Reader Advanced. The device is an enhancement of previous technology that allows food safety professionals to enumerate micro-organisms quickly and accurately. The equipment includes a small peripheral device containing a five-megapixel camera, versatile bar code reader and fixed artificial intelligence that expedites result interpretation in six seconds or less. www.3m.com

GloCyte automated cerebrospinal fluid cell counter GloCyte is an automated cell counter that delivers accurate and precise total nucleated cell (TNC) and red blood cell (RBC) results at clinically relevant low levels, reducing valuable time spent counting those more difficult specimens. Using a novel combination of fluorescence technology, highly specific reagents and an intelligent counting algorithm, GloCyte can handle all of the cerebrospinal fluid specimens (CSF) that enter your laboratory. www.aicompanies.com

Keeping food fresh in a sustainable way

Commercial-grade microwave Midea offers a heavy-duty, large commercial microwave with a userfriendly touchpad that includes braille navigation. The 2100W Push Button Heavy Duty Commercial Microwave can be programmed, features five power levels and three cooking stages, and can be stacked with same-style ovens. The large-capacity 1.2 cubic ft. (34 L) cavity accommodates a 14-in. (356 mm) platter or several tall pans. www.midea.com

Modular filling machine evolves with business needs Synerlink recently launched Versatech, an innovative filling machine for food and dairy processors with a modular design that evolves to meet customer business needs, outlasting the standard 20- to 30-year life cycle. Starting with a compact 2.5 m. by 4 m. frame, it can be quickly and inexpensively reconfigured, and it is expandable with standard-increment modules that come in lengths of 440, 880 or 1,320 mm. A centralized cabling network offers plugand-play functionality. www.synerlink.com

Grabbing customers’ attention with new eco-friendly plastic packaging Printex Transparent Packaging has introduced its new Eco-PET 100 series clear folding boxes, made from 100% recycled post-consumer recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Up until now, North American PET sheet and film producers have only offered up to 25% and 50% post-consumer recycled content plastic for box grade packaging, making it difficult to find a clear and untinted PET in 100% PCR. www.ptpackaging.com

C A N A D I A N F O O D B U S I N E S S.C O M

Calgary-based Hempalta’s Hemp-Fresco Organic Food Pads are a natural produce saver shown to extend the life of fresh fruits and vegetables. Made from 100% renewable and eco-friendly Canadian hemp fiber, the chemical-free pads slow spoilage and decrease food waste by absorbing liquids, gases and moisture to avoid premature spoiling. Effective odor control extends freshness, keeping food smelling, tasting and looking fresh for days longer. They’re also safe to compost after use. www.hempalta.com

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MOMENTS IN TIME

CFI CELEBRATES

25 YEARS

with a forward-looking survey of youth T

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o mark its 25th anniversary, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) launched a survey last year to ask 18- to 24-year-olds about their attitudes toward science. Among the findings released last fall, the survey revealed that many of the participants felt science was too intellectually demanding. “This significant and meaningful survey rings notes of hope and caution as we look to the future and to the next generation,” said Roseann O’Reilly Runte, President and CEO, Canada Foundation for Innovation. “Their impressive overall support for science and their concern for the environment, for example, are promising. Their need for the basic tools to discern and understand truth and for the mathematical skills required to do so require immediate attention. This survey is a call for action and an indication of the path to follow.” When it comes to forming attitudes and opinions on issues ranging from COVID-19 vaccines to environmental sustainability, the majority of young adults in Canada use scientific information to guide their actions. Some cohorts, however, either question or ignore science, which affects their attitudes about those science-based issues. The survey, developed together with Acfas and Ipsos, revealed that science matters for young adult Canadians. 70% of respondents agreed that science can be relied upon because it is based on facts and not opinion, and 77% think science is a good field for people in their age group to pursue as a career. Ipsos surveyed 1,500 young people across the country on questions around the sources of information they access and which sources have the greatest influence on their attitudes toward four science-related issues: COVID-19 vaccine safety, environmental sustainability, climate change and the importance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for the future. Overall, the survey made clear that young adults are navigating an extremely complex and diverse information

ecosystem where they are inevitably exposed to fake news and anti-science information. This presents an increasingly difficult challenge for science communicators and educators: how to effectively reach those who do not have the tools or the interest to fully understand science-related issues and fight misinformation. Policy-makers, ministries of education and economic development organizations also have a role to play in taking up this challenge in order to build a stronger scienceliterate society. The survey also revealed that this age group holds opinions consistent with the scientific evidence. About 68% agreed COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada are safe; 63% agreed that single-use plastics should be banned; 55% agreed that curbing the use of fossil fuels will help reduce the impacts of climate change; and 57% agreed it is critical for Canadian politicians and governments to rely on science when making policy decisions for the benefits of Canadians on issues including health, well-being and the economy. As part of the research, Canadian youth were divided into five segments that represent general mindsets that span a spectrum of attitudes towards science, from pro-science to science-hesitant. The survey revealed some areas of concern including a shortfall in mathematics, skepticism and the ability to determine real news from fake news; for instance, 84% believe they are not good in math. While their opinions generally align with science, they are more likely to say science is too intellectually demanding and that they don’t feel equipped to distinguish valid science from pseudoscience. Among those who question science, the majority use intuition to make personal decisions related to health and don’t believe scientific proof equals truth. Social media influencers holding anti-science views are prevalent and pervasive, with 73% of respondents reporting they follow at least one social media influencer that has expressed anti-science views.


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