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How Canadian Technology is Tackling the Food Waste Crisis
Risun Bio-Tech Inc  Jun 30, 2016

How Canadian Technology is Tackling the Food Waste Crisis 

    The issue of food waste has grown from your parents telling you to finish what's on your plate into one of the defining challenges of our era. Despite rising food insecurity, $31 billion of it is wasted every year in Canada, a number soaring to $1 trillion worldwide as 30 percent of food goes uneaten.Yes, some of that is still your fault if you put leftovers in the trash instead of Tupperware, but the vast majority of food waste happens at production, processing and retail levels rather than on the consumption side.

    To help address this, France famously passed unanimous legislation requiring supermarkets to either give unsold food to charity or send it to farmers for use as feed and fertilizer. Here in Canada, food rescue organizations like Second Harvest help get unspoiled food from retailers, manufacturers, restaurants and caterers to charities, delivering ingredients for over 22,000 meals daily.


    Jay Subramanian, a plant agriculture professor at the University of Guelph, and his team of biotech scientists have devised a food spray that the CBC reports "uses a nanotechnology-based application of hexanal, a natural plant extract that prevents fruit spoilage."

    This enzyme-inhibiting hexanal slows ripening by preserving a fruit's cellular walls, extending shelf life by as much as 50 per cent. Mangoes keep fresh up to 23 days, bananas up to 40 days and peaches and nectarines last another 10 days beyond their current single week. It also increases farmer revenues 15 per cent.

    Fruit is one of food waste's biggest culprits -- 30 percent of fruits and veggies don't even get on store shelves -- making this invention a potentially huge player in addressing the issue.

    Launching in Toronto later this summer but already garnering a ton of attention, the Flashfood app aims to save people money and save tons of food from landing in landfills. 

    "Flashfood is essentially the discount food rack on your cellphone and it's a means for grocery stores, restaurants, food vendors, being able to resell their surplus food before they're going to throw it out," founder and CEO Josh Domingues told City TV.

    The app allows users to purchase "flashsale" food via their phones and pick it up later that day, though specific logistics reportedly remain in the works.

    The tech startup's ambitious plan is to eventually expand throughout Canada and then go global.

    About 18 percent of food waste happens at the manufacturing level, according to a report by Ontario's Provision Coalition, "the food and beverage manufacturers' one-stop source for sustainability."


    One solution to reducing that waste may be "hyperspectral chemical imaging technology for production line grading and sorting of leafy greens, carrots and potatoes," reports Food in Canada, a food and beverage processing industry publication. 

    The initiative is a collaboration between Ippolito Fruit & Produce, Riga Farms, EarthFresh Foods and Amazing Grains working with Ontario chemical imaging company P&P Optica and industrial equipment company Axiom Millwrighting & Fabrication. The University of Guelph and Conestoga College will be in charge of testing the technology's effectiveness. 

    "Currently, many produce manufacturers in Canada are using aging technology for sorting and grading. At Ippolito, we connected with our industry peers to explore and then implement new technology – technology that has broader food industry application and will be shared with companies across the country," CEO Joel Ippolito told Food in Canada.