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Food Processing & The Circular Economy

What would a circular food system look like? In the Guelph-Wellington County Region in Ontario, Canadian and Dutch organizations are working together in exploring the circular possibilities and transitioning the existing food system. The fourth episode of the webinar series “Making the Circular Economy Real” showcased the work in the region that has been done so far and the circular opportunities in the food processing industry in general.

The webinar started with opening remarks from Deputy Head of Mission Jorn Leeksma, who was introduced by moderator Paul van der Werf. Being the second largest exporter of agricultural products after the US and with the food processing industry as the largest industrial sector in the country, the Netherlands is well positioned to share best technologies and processes across the world.

Jorn Leeksma

Leeksma mentioned that a circular food system is an opportunity to address climate change, create healthy cities, and rebuild biodiversity.

Analyzing the food system

With the “Our Food Future” initiative, the Guelph-Wellington County Region is aiming to become Canada’s first technology-enabled Circular Food Economy. The first speaker in the webinar, Andrew McCue, Sustainability Consultant at the Dutch organization Metabolic, gave insights in the way Metabolic is working in partnership with the University of Guelph and Dillon Consulting, in order to analyze the current state of the food system in the region and to identify circular opportunities.

Andrew McCue
Andrew McCue

Metabolic aimed to give the full picture of what food groups are produced and where in the value chain specific food groups are wasted. Consumption patterns were included in the research. Moreover, Metabolic looked at the environmental impact the different food groups have. With Metabolic’s framework, this type of analysis can be easily replicated for other regions. The information resulting from Metabolic’s analysis can be applied on a local scale, showing the gap between food and waste.

Embedding circularity

The Canadian organization Provision Coalition Inc. helps food and beverage companies grow by making food sustainably. In the “Our Food Future” initiative, it is the organization’s role to support companies and transform their business. The second speaker in the webinar, the Provision Coalition’s President and CEO Cher Mereweather, highlighted the actual loss of diversion in the food value chain for companies. A lot of companies are not aware of the value they are throwing away. One of those companies was Wellington Brewery. Provision Coalition analyzed together with the brewer how much of their product was being wasted annually, including its value, and how this converted into GHG emissions in the atmosphere. By working together in a change management process, training employees and making improvements in equipment, the company was able to make back most of the the losses.

Cher Mereweather
Cher Mereweather

Also, for the brewer, spent grain is a significant, unavoidable waste product. By connecting different players in the food network, in Provision Coalition’s Re(PURPOSE) program, that unavoidable waste was used in creating the first circular gourmet meal, getting the nutrients back into the food system. 

- With files from Kartik Moorthy

Want to watch the full episode?

To watch the full recording of the fourth webinar, please click here.

More information

The webinar “Food Processing & The Circular Economy” is part of the series “Making the Circular Economy Real”, organized by the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Toronto and Canada Circular Hotspot. Key objectives of the webinar series are increasing participant’s knowledge, expanding networks, showing the circular economy in real world action and inspiring the development of new circular economy projects in Ontario and across Canada.

Please find below the recordings of the previous webinars in the series "Making the Circular Economy Real":

Contact us

Are you interested in learning more about the Dutch-Canadian cooperation or in connecting with Dutch parties, for inspiration, networking or doing business? We would love to hear from you, so feel free to reach out to our Economic Affairs team at tor-ea@minbuza.nl.