The federal government will spend more than $261,000 for research into packaging to extend the shelf life of fresh produce.
On Friday in Summerland, MP Dan Albas announced the investment to Innovative Food Systems Corp. “Our producers need cutting-edge technologies that will help them remain competitive in the global marketplace,” Albas said.
The funding will allow Innovative Food Systems and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada researchers to examine antimicrobial packaging technology to keep food fresh.
Perry Lidster, president and CEO of Innovative Food Systems Corp. said the packaging will improve food safety and security.
“With this new technology, produce can be protected from many common food pathogens,” he said. “This is important for fresh produce consumed in the home but also to the institutional food suppliers.”
He said the technology will allow food to be kept for 25 to 35 days and will cut product losses, which can be as high as 40 to 50 per cent.
Because food has a longer shelf life under the new packaging system, it can be shipped farther than at present, using ships rather than airplanes to fly produce.
Sending food by sea instead of air allows for a reduction of shipping costs by up to 60 per cent, he said.
Albas said the Europeans are becoming more demanding of foods and products which have a low carbon footprint.
He added that the technology will also allow Canadian food producers to send their food to more distant markets than at present.
Joe Sardinha, president of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association, said the technology will have its biggest advantage for cherry producers, although all produce can benefit.
”If this leads to fewer losses at the retail end, it’s going to result in more dollars,” he said.