MONTRÉAL—I walked the show floor at the Canadian Produce Marketing Association Convention in early April looking for a few specific things.
I was looking for trends, and innovation in retail packaging.
Packaging is one of those hot button issues for consumers and for the media lately, and those of us in the produce industry have a delicate position to balance what packaging can accomplish when it comes to food safety, increasing consumption through accessibility, and reducing food waste — with the problem of single-use plastic.
CPMA President Ron Lemaire talked plastic during his address to delegates on April 3.
“This is my No. 1 challenge right now,” he said. “Plastic is going to be an issue for us if we don’t prepare and move forward with a clear position and direction and understand what we can do as an industry to address it.”
Consumers are paying attention to headlines about plastic pollution, he said.
“The consumer is seeing this and wanting action,” he said. “We are on the front end of government saying we need to react, we need to regulate and we need to structure something around how we deal with our plastic issue.”
Innovations on the show floor tell me the produce industry is responding. Back in the day, I can recall one or two companies toying with the idea of home compostable trays and films, but those projects have gone full steam ahead.
One walk through the CPMA product innovation cases showed me the majority new products and packaging all reinforced either a reduction in material use, or a change to materials that either compost or break down faster in landfill.
Take a look at a few of them in this slideshow: