With increasing consumption of fresh produce as its top priority, on November 15, International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) CEO Cathy Burns and VP of innovation Vonnie Estes attended a roundtable meeting focused on U.S. and Canadian consumer food affordability with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The meeting was hosted at the San Francisco Market.
“To drive consumption of fruits and vegetables, we must continue to create preference for produce and increase access, which includes ensuring affordability,” said Burns. “We are grateful for Prime Minister Trudeau’s partnership in today’s roundtable as we discussed opportunities to make food more affordable, such as through government investment in projects such as Food Fix or produce prescriptions.”
“However, as IFPA members expect us to advocate on issues impacting their businesses, we also used our time to ensure that Canadian policymakers don't also make food less affordable, less safe, and less accessible which will be an outcome of legislation that seeks to eliminate produce packaging options in Canada," she added.
Burns referred to the planned rule from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to eliminate plastic packaging in produce sold in Canada by 95 per cent by 2028. While IFPA recognizes the efforts of the ECCC to reduce the environmental impact of single use packaging, Burns highlighted the important role that plastic packaging plays in ensuring shelf-life of the certain fresh and fresh categories, affordability and convenience; while PLU stickers allow to eliminate packaging altogether while supporting accurate pricing and consumer choice.
Burns stressed the need to exempt plastic packaging for fresh and fresh cut products, as well as functional PLU stickers from planned packaging bans in Canada.
"PLU stickers solve a lot of challenges at retail, and they are critical to price integrity and product identification - especially for organics, and more packaging would be needed without them,” added Estes. “A Canadian rule is demanding all PLU stickers be compostable and we shared that multiple efforts are in progress to develop a compostable sticker for example, IFPA is working with Sinclair on a USDA grant for a compostable option and IFPA member (and Canadian based company), Accu-Label, has one in development as well. Of course, innovation takes time in addition to investment and we’re working to create a compostable adhesive that will stick to all fruits and vegetables. We were clear that the shortest and most effective path to decreasing plastics is in innovative partnerships.”
Source: International Fresh Produce Association November 20, 2023 statement