WASHINGTON — On Nov. 15, the International Fresh Produce Association’s (IFPA) CEO, Cathy Burns, and vice president of Innovation, Vonnie Estes, met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss consumer food affordability in the US and Canada.

“To drive consumption of fruits and vegetables, we must continue to create preference for produce and increase access, which includes ensuring affordability,” Burns said. “We are grateful for Prime Minister Trudeau’s partnership in today’s roundtable as we discussed opportunities to make food more affordable, such as through government investment in projects like Food Fix or produce prescriptions.”

“However, as IFPA members expect us to advocate on issues impacting their businesses,” Burns added, “we also used our time to ensure that Canadian policymakers don't also make food less affordable, less safe, and less accessible, which will be an outcome of legislation that seeks to eliminate produce packaging options in Canada.”

The legislation Burns referred to is the planned rule from the Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to reduce plastic packaging in produce sold in Canada by 95% by 2028.

IFPA said the association “recognizes the efforts of the ECCC to reduce the environmental impact of single-use packaging.”

However, Burns also spoke to the role that plastic packaging plays in shelf-life management for fresh categories and how PLU stickers can “eliminate packaging altogether while supporting accurate pricing and consumer choice.”

Burns and Estes emphasized that plastic packaging and PLU stickers for fresh departments should be exempt the planned packaging bans in Canada.

"PLU stickers solve a lot of challenges at retail, and they are critical to price integrity and product identification — especially for Organics, and more packaging would be needed without them,” Estes said. “A Canadian rule is demanding all PLU stickers be compostable, and we shared that multiple efforts are in progress to develop a compostable sticker. For example, IFPA is working with Sinclair on a USDA grant for a compostable option, and IFPA member (and Canadian based company) Accu-Label has one in development as well. Of course, innovation takes time in addition to investment, and we’re working to create a compostable adhesive that will stick to all fruits and vegetables. We were clear that the shortest and most effective path to decreasing plastics is in innovative partnerships.”