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  • North American Produce Industry Sounds Warning Bell re Pallet Shortages Putting the Supply of Fresh Produce at Risk

    May 2021 Although conversations are occurring within the North American (and global) industry relative to the current acute pallet shortages, we believe that many do not yet realize the factors impacting the situation and the potential scope of the issue, including the availability of produce to consumers. A multitude of issues are impacting pallet availability including: Efforts of wholesalers, distributors and retailers to ensure sufficient inventory of non-perishables given previous pandemic-related impacts. The availability of lumber to repair and build new pallets. The escalating price of lumber when it is available. Non-perishable inventory dwell time increase. Lack of available trucks to relocate pallets. The lack of pallets is adding stress to a supply chain that is already facing significant challenges which include a lack of available trucks and shipping containers, ongoing labour challenges, fluctuating fuel costs, pandemic-related challenges and a pending shortage of resin used to make reusable containers and pallets.  At this time expectations are that the pallet shortage will continue for months, perhaps for the balance of 2021 – all at a time when many North American produce items are just beginning seasonal harvests and shipments. To give a sample of the scope of the issue, we’ve compiled the following information: The shortage of lumber and wood products has increased the cost of raw lumber 200% to 350% and is making the cost of wood pallets increase incrementally. In one example, it was noted that over the past few weeks, pallet costs have increased more than 400%, IF the pallets are even available, and often they are not. One farmer was told by one pallet supplier that they are not taking any new customers due to an inability to fill even existing customer demand. Companies are forced to bring pallets from other jurisdictions thereby incurring border and transportation costs. Pallets are being held in-house due to delayed and cancelled orders from pallet services, leading to higher storage charges and increased congestion within operations. Working together, the supply chain must balance organizational goals relative to overall availability of goods with availability of food.  If there is not a concerted effort across the supply chain to ensure pallet availability for shipment of produce, there is little doubt that it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for the grower/shipper community to meet buyer, and ultimately consumer, demand for produce.  Simultaneously, growers and shippers are working hard to remain compliant with pallet requirement specifications where they can, but this is proving challenging.  Temporary modifications or exceptions to pallet requirements, as long as they do not jeopardize safety, would prove advantageous until this pallet shortage is resolved. This news is intended, in part, to act as a catalyst for industry awareness and should be shared with all stakeholders to ensure a consistent understanding of the issue and to encourage discussions and efforts towards a path forward.  All partners in the supply chain should have regular conversations with their pallet suppliers to understand the situation and pallet inventories/availability. We welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with all parties within the supply chain to mitigate the impacts of the current shortages and will reach out to stakeholders to identify a path forward that provides solutions to this increasingly disruptive threat and enables the continued flow of goods. Click here to see more industry news

  • Algoma Orchards undertakes Waste Water Project

    Algoma Orchards is one of Canada’s most innovative leaders in apple farming, packing, and juice bottling. Algoma’s growing demand and production capacity required an increased supply of water, but infrastructure and operational challenges coupled with high costs of water were impeding expansion plans. SOLUTION: CharTech designed an integrated and compact membrane bioreactor (MBR)with bio-media in conjunction with highly effective Reverse Osmosis (RO) to convert high BOD wastewater into high-quality water that Algoma reuses for on-site processes. RESULT: CharTech supplied a state-of-the-art, fully automated closed loop water treatment system sized to process up to 110,000 liters per day of process wastewater to be recycled for reuse. It is one of first closed loop systems in Canada combining innovative technologies to effectively convert wastewater into high quality potable water, simultaneously enabling Algoma to increase its production capacity, improve efficiencies and reduce its environmental footprint. The project received grant funding to offset 50% of the project expenses, and also saves Algoma approximately $200,000 per year in operational costs. According to Kirk Kemp, President of Algoma Orchards, “Our partnership with CharTech Solutions to design and install a fully automated closed loop water recycling system has been a big success. We save $200,000/yr. by eliminating the need to truck in fresh water and dispose of wastewater for our apple and juice production processes. We’re proud to be an industry leader by implementing solutions that increases our capacity and reduces our environmental footprint.” Please view the project profile here: CharTech Project Profile – Algoma Orchards Closed Loop Water System 2021

  • Longo’s partners with Equifruit to become First Retailer in North America to offer Exclusively Fairtrade Bananas

        TORONTO, May 06, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)  — Longo’s Brothers Fruit Market (“Longo’s”) has become the first grocery retailer in North America to commit to offering only Fairtrade bananas in their 36 stores and through delivery on Grocery Gateway. This is made possible through a partnership with the Canadian company, Equifruit. The landmark decision sets a new standard for sustainable produce supply chains in North America. The announcement is aligned with Fairtrade Month, which takes place each May in Canada. With this commitment, Longo’s is ensuring that the farmers and communities where its bananas are sourced are guaranteed a fair and sustainable income and that farmers get financial and technical support to lower their impact on the environment. For Longo’s, a full commitment to Fairtrade bananas comes as the latest in a long line of sustainability initiatives centred around environmental stewardship, responsible sourcing, and healthy communities, including waste diversion, use of renewable energy, and community donations. “We aim to be the most trusted and relied upon food partner, and that includes setting sustainability precedents,” said Mike Longo, Chief Merchandising Officer at Longo’s. “We’re proud to be the first North American retailer to initiate what is becoming a global purchasing standard for bananas.” Fairtrade aims to create more respectful trading partnerships between producers and consumers, and so Longo’s has chosen to partner on this project with Equifruit, the Canadian leader in Fairtrade banana imports and marketing, to connect with their Guests on both supply and support with in-store messaging. In meeting Fairtrade’s social sustainability standards, Equifruit and Longo’s reinvest US$1 per standard 40lb case sold back to the communities where the bananas were produced. These funds are used for projects like clean water facilities, schools and health clinics. “Fairtrade standards provide essential income stability to banana farmers working in an otherwise highly volatile market and empower them to invest in their communities,” said Jennie Coleman, President of Equifruit. “Fairtrade purchasing is the most pragmatic approach to ensuring these communities continue to develop and provide the world with its favourite staple fruit.” “Produce has always been the backbone of our business, and responsible sourcing is not only incredibly important to us but is at the core of our family values,” said Mimmo Franzone, Director of Produce and Floral at Longo’s. “We are proud to be taking these important steps with Equifruit to ensure we can continue to fuel happier and healthier lives around the globe for years to come.” Following a successful Longo’s pilot of Fairtrade-only bananas and the positive feedback from Guests, Longo’s was confident that making this exclusive offering was not only the right decision for its Guests, but for a sustainable future. To meet International Fairtrade Standards, banana producers must provide fair wages and safe working conditions for workers, forbid child labour, minimize the use of chemicals, and properly sustain the local environment. Learn more about the impacts of Fairtrade banana production on Equifruit’s website. Effective May 6th, all 36 locations of Longo’s and Grocery Gateway delivery will exclusively offer both conventional and organic Fairtrade bananas. About Longo’s Brothers Fruit Market Longo’s is a family-operated Canadian organization that started in 1956 when three brothers, Tommy, Joe and Gus opened their first fruit market. What began as a small family-run store has since grown to a company that operates 36 stores in communities across Toronto and the GTA, as well as Grocery Gateway, the leader in online sales of home-delivered groceries. Today, Longo’s maintains the same family-based values as they did 65 years ago, putting Family Standards at the heart of everything they do. Longo’s is proud to serve their Guests the quality standard of food they believe every family deserves, and to give back to the communities they operate in through the Longo’s Family Charitable Foundation. About Equifruit: Equifruit is a group of diehard believers in ethical fruit sourcing. Especially when it comes to bananas. We’re righting the wrongs of banana business history by making it fair from the start, especially for farmers. Established in 2006, Equifruit is Canada’s leading Fairtrade-certified banana importer. We’re a growing produce aisle sweetheart with current distribution in Quebec and Ontario. Stay tuned for our worldwide Fairtrade banana domination – starting with North America. Longo’s Media Contact: Kate Johnny Public Relations Equifruit Media Contact: Kim Chackal Director of Sales & Marketing, Equifruit 514.993.7736

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