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Why your food company needs to speak the language of sustainability

Reference: FCC

Former NHL player TJ Galiardi totalled 44 goals and 105 points during his decade-long hockey career, but his most important assist might ultimately arise from his work in food processing sustainability.

Along with business partner Dr. Darren Burke, Galiardi created Outcast Foods, a Dartmouth, Nova Scotia-based company that upcycles surplus or past-date fruits and vegetables it sources from food processors, grocers and farms.
When consumers are increasingly attuned to everything from a company’s carbon footprint to where the materials for its products are sourced and how those products are made, Outcast is becoming a champion for sustainability.

The company flash-chills the fruits and vegetables to trap micronutrients, then dehydrates the food, converting it to protein powders sold online and at national retailers and into the United States. The company also sells ingredients such as beet, carrot and broccoli powder to companies ranging from pet food manufacturers to cosmetics makers, who incorporate the powders into their manufacturing process.
Outcast is currently building a 46,000 square-foot plant in Burlington, Ont. that Galiardi says will enable it to process 1.5 million pounds of fruits and vegetables per month between its Ontario and Nova Scotia operations.

Sustainability as a bedrock principle

Sustainability has become something of a bedrock principle, driving the food processing sector to consider how they do business.

“If you’re a brand in the market today if you don’t have something around sustainability - whether it’s your packaging, your ingredients or the product itself - you’re going to be off the shelves before you know it,” Galiardi says.
A 2019 PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada report (English only) states that sustainability is becoming “the way of doing business” for companies, with 34 %of consumers willing to pay a premium for brands that are known for their sustainable practices.

Coming of age

Cher Mereweather, president and CEO of Provision Coalition, works with companies throughout the food system to create a circular food economy. She agrees that the issue of sustainability has finally come of age for food processing and manufacturing.

The increased emphasis on sustainability from grocery retailers - particularly as their focus has shifted from internal operations to outside the organization - leads them to ask questions of their processor partners. Yet many operators continue to regard sustainability with a degree of skepticism, seeing any efforts as a potential drag on the bottom line rather than a potential profit centre... Read More