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SIAL Notes

Fork to field

TORONTO — Gone are the days when farmers and food processors brought their wares to market to sell.

Consumers are now directing what is provided, said Paul Uys, senior director of the University of Guelph’s Food Institute.

“Now it’s fork to field,” he said. “It’s coming from the market and pushing its way down.”

He said consumers are used to a customized marketplace, where coffee is served according to their exact requests.

Speaking at the SIAL food show in Toronto, he said consumers are seeking antibiotic- and hormone-free meat and greater transparency in how food is produced.

“That influence is going down to the farmgate, rather than farmers saying we will provide whatever crop will be best this season.”

Uys said food retailers will start working closely with farmers on what they require.

“It’s coming from consumers who have an expectation,” he said. “They want to trust where the products are coming from, and they have expectations that retailers will push that expectation down the supply chain rather than it coming up.”

Food waste

TORONTO — About 40 percent of food in Canada is wasted, said Cher Mereweather of the Provision Coalition.

That translates into $31 billion worth of food a year, or two percent of Canada’s gross domestic product.

She said 47 percent of the waste happens in households and 20 percent in manufacturing and processing.

Her group’s mission is to help companies reduce waste at the source by first reducing the amount of surplus food that is generated and then feeding the needy through donations of excess food supplies. The rest would be fed to animals through food scraps, anaerobic digestion would tackle industrial waste and landfills would be used only as a last resort, she said.

Mereweather said waste continues because it’s considered a cost of doing business. A product with a labelling error cannot be sold, but is still safe for consumers and could be donated to feed vulnerable communities.

Wasted food ending up in landfills contributes to climate change by producing methane, she said, citing the three percent of Canada’s national greenhouse gas emissions is the result of food waste.

Her organization provides a free audit to companies, waste disposal methods and offer ways to reduce product losses.

“It’s about creating awareness so we can tackle it. Let’s measure it and change it,” said Mereweather.



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