IFPA executives discuss food affordability with Canadian prime minister
International Fresh Produce Association CEO Cathy Burns and Vonnie Estes, IFPA vice president of innovation, attended a Nov. 15 roundtable meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau focused on U.S. and Canadian consumer food affordability.
“To drive consumption of fruits and vegetables, we must continue to create preference for produce and increase access, which includes ensuring affordability,” Burns said in the release. “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 like Food Fix or produce prescriptions.”
Burns expressed concern, however, that a pending change from Environment and Climate Change Canada could drive up food prices. An ECCC directive aims to eliminate plastic packaging in produce sold in Canada by 95% by 2028, according to the release.
“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,” Burns said.
Burns highlighted the role that plastic packaging plays in ensuring shelf life, affordability and convenience. She stressed the need to exempt plastic packaging for fresh and fresh-cut products, as well as functional PLU stickers, from the directive.
“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,” Estes said in the release. “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.”
A USDA researcher shared details of the PLU research with Produce Processing earlier this year.
“Innovation takes time in addition to investment, and we’re working to create a compostable adhesive that will stick to all fruits and vegetables,” Estes said. “We were clear that the shortest and most effective path to decreasing plastics is in innovative partnerships.”