Minister MacAulay announces Novel Technologies Streams winners under the Food Waste Reduction Challenge

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Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Today, as part of Canadian Innovation Week 2024, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, announced the two grand prize winners of the Novel Technologies Streams for the Food Waste Reduction Challenge, Clean Works Inc. and Genecis Bioindustries Inc.

The Challenge, launched in November 2020 in partnership with Impact Canada, supports high-impact solutions to food waste in Canada. The Novel Technologies Streams focus on developing technological solutions to food waste. These solutions serve to extend the life of perishable food, or transform food waste into new products or value-added products.

Clean Works is a St. Catharines-based company that, with support from the Challenge, developed a solution that uses hydrogen peroxide, ozone and UV to control mildew and micro-organism growth in pre-harvest (greenhouses, field crops, grapevines) fruit and vegetables. This solution allows the shelf life of produce to be increased by up to 20%, which Clean Works estimates to prevent nearly 50 tonnes of food waste annually for grapes and spinach alone in Canada.

Genecis Bioindustries is a Toronto-based company that, with support from the Challenge, developed a specialized bacteria that transforms food waste into compostable bioplastics. Over the last 3 years, the company has diverted over 2.1 tonnes of food waste from the landfill, allowing them to produce around 5,000 tonnes of environmentally-friendly bioplastic at their Toronto facility each year.

Clean Works and Genecis Bioindustries will each receive a grand prize of up to $1 million to help accelerate the advancement of their proprietary solutions and support their prospective deployment in the Canadian market.

By encouraging more solutions to food waste, we can increase food availability, save Canadians and businesses money, and strengthen our food systems, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Government will continue to support innovation in this area, to ensure that more of the high-quality products produced by our farmers and food processors reach Canadians.

Quotes

“Congratulations to Clean Works and Genecis Bioindustries for your work to help tackle food waste in Canada. Through initiatives like the Food Waste Reduction Challenge, we’re supporting innovative solutions that will help Canadians and businesses save money and turn food that could go to waste into new or value-added products.”

– The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“Both food waste and food scarcity are increasing in Canada and globally which highlights the important of strengthening our food systems. The support through the Food Waste Reduction Challenge and the funding provided by AAFC positions Clean Works and Canada as a world leader in food safety and food waste reduction technology. With this support, Clean Works can bring products to market that provide sustainable solutions to battle plant disease and food born illness while reducing chemical use, ensuring safety of our pollinators, and increasing the bottom line for our farmers.”

– Denise VanderVeen, Director of Business Development, Clean Works Inc.

“Thanks to the support of AAFC, Genecis is poised to make significant advancements in the global commercialization of Canadian-made biotechnology. This prize money will enhance our technological capabilities and expand our operational scope to accelerate the conversion of waste into high-value bioproducts. We believe that our participation in the Food Waste Reduction Challenge will enable Canadians to live healthier and more sustainable lives and inspire the next generation of innovators.”

– Luna Yu, CEO, Genecis Bioindustries Inc.

Quick facts

  • According to Second Harvest and Value Chain Management International, 58% of Canada’s annual food supply is reportedly wasted or lost.
  • The Food Waste Reduction Challenge is part of the first-ever Food Policy for Canada, which serves as a roadmap for a healthier and more sustainable food system in Canada. It is a vision that all people should be able to access the healthy food they need in a dignified manner.
  • The second round of the Food Waste Reduction Challenge attracted 238 applications from innovators across Canada and around the world, which led to 18 semi-finalists, and ultimately six finalists chosen across Canada who brought forward diverse and innovative technologies that can, for example, be used to prevent spoilage of pre-harvest crops, extend the shelf life of food, and transform food waste into compostable bioplastics.
  • An External Review Committee, composed of subject matter experts from a diverse range of backgrounds, played an important role in reviewing solutions and recommending winners at each stage of the Challenge.
  • Entries under the Food Waste Reduction Challenge’s Novel Technologies Streams were evaluated against established criteria, including potential volume of food waste reduction, technology effectiveness, level of innovation and scalability as well as environmental and economic benefits.
  • To learn more about the Novel Technologies Streams and to view the Novel Technologies Streams’ Finalist Videos, visit the Food Waste Reduction Challenge website.
  • Under the Food Waste Reduction Challenge’s Business Models Streams, two winners were announced in March 2024. Each company received a grand prize of $1.5 million.
  • To learn more about the Business Models Streams and to view the Business Models Streams’ Finalist Videos, visit the Food Waste Reduction Challenge website.
  • Rising inflation and increasing food prices are challenging for many Canadians, and the Government of Canada is working to make life more affordable. We recognize that food affordability is a sensitive issue as food security concerns have been on the rise, putting pressure on household finances and making it more difficult for many families to afford healthy and nutritious food.
  • That is why the Government of Canada is continuously working to strengthen Canada’s food systems to ensure sustainable food production and processing.

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