ICYMI: Increased food waste during COVID-19, the call to winterize patios, new rooftop garden in Montreal and more

Here are five food-related news stories you may have missed last week

Grocery stores were one of the busiest places when the pandemic hit. It seems as though one of the first things Canadians did was stock up on non-perishables like rice, pasta, and flour (and of course, toilet paper). But with more Canadians staying home during the pandemic, there’s been an increase in purchases on perishables and organics as well, and a subsequent increase in food waste. In a recent study from the Dalhousie University, scientists found that organic food waste from Canadians has increased by 13.5 per cent. Canned soups and snacks were especially popular during this time, but Campbell's soup is struggling to sustain the growth in sales it generated at the height of the pandemic.

Aside from non-perishables, another way to address food availability may be with rooftop gardens, as Lufa Farms in Montreal showed that it is able to pivot more quickly from changing demands with its new greenhouse facility, converted from an old Sears warehouse.

Those who feel comfortable to make the jump from eating at home to restaurants might have frequented patios, which have been the saving factor for many restaurants that didn’t have enough indoor space for social distancing. To help restaurants extend patio season, Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi is encouraging restaurants to winterize their patios with heat lamps and other amenities. 

Food wastage an unexpected side effect of COVID-19

Not surprisingly, months of staying at home has required Canadians to cook more. This has created a big shift in household grocery shopping habits, and for most people, this also meant more food sitting in the fridge for too long. Researchers at Dalhousie University found that the average Canadian household is generating 2.30 kg of organic food waste, which is a staggering 13.5 per cent increase from pre-pandemic food wastage. 

It’s not all bad news, though; Canadians are reporting that they are trying to make things better by eating leftovers more and preserving and canning foods more, among other tactics.

Read more from Food in Canada.

Campbell's soup struggles to sustain increased sales


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Campbell's Soup is a pantry staple at the best of times, but people were seriously stocking up on canned soup and snacks when the pandemic hit. 

Campbell Soup Company's fourth-quarter results showed a 52 per cent increase in U.S. soup sales, but as COVID-19 restrictions ease, the outlook isn’t as rosy as expected, with Campbell’s share prices falling below expectations.

Read more from Reuters.

Calgary mayor urges restaurants to winterize patios to operate into colder months

Patios have been a saviour for many restaurants during COVID-19, as they are able to seat more people in an open-air environment to help with social distancing. This past spring, the City of Calgary started to allow shops and restaurants to expand their businesses onto sidewalks and streets to help restaurants provide a safe patio experience. To continue the effort into the colder months, Calgary mayor, Naheed Nenshi, is encouraging Calgary restaurants to winterize their patios with heat lamps and blankets to stay open as long as possible. In a recent Chamber of Commerce report, the organization estimates that 60 per cent of restaurants could be closed permanently in the next three months due to reduced capacity. 

Read more about this from Global News.

Could rooftop greenhouses be the future of agriculture?


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Montreal's St. Laurent area has a new addition to its cityscape, thanks to Lufa Farms, an urban agricultural company that turned a former Sears warehouse into a rooftop garden. The 163,000-square-foot greenhouse garden is the biggest commercial facility for the company. Mohamed Hage, Lufa’s chief executive officer, said that the demand for food from Lufa doubled in March of this year, and this urban garden is able to pivot quickly to those changes.

Read more about this from the Globe and Mail.

Lilydale union calls for plant closure after COVID-19 outbreak


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In response to a recent outbreak of COVID-19 at a Lilydale poultry processing plant in Calgary, the union president is calling for it to be closed for thorough cleaning and to give employees the time to self-isolate. As of last week, there are 24 active cases of COVID-19 at the plant. This is the second outbreak at the plant, and employees are working with public health to prevent the spread of the disease.

Read more about this from CTV.