The Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) and Western Growers (WG), which both represent local and regional family farmers, have initiated a joint effort to establish sustainable produce packaging guidelines for North America.  

The partners introduced a working group, Sustainable Produce Packaging Alignment for North America (SPPA), which will create the guidelines. 

The collaboration aims to develop packaging guidelines by December 2025, addressing the diverse and sometimes conflicting demands from governments and retailers across the continent. 

Several grower associations from across North America convened to assess the current state of produce packaging in the region.  

WG president and CEO Dave Puglia said: “Consumers are requesting high-quality fresh produce from our growers and changes in packaging. As such, the industry is facing new and aggressive demands from both the public and private sector – demands that are often in conflict with each other, and don’t fully recognise industry realities and progress.” 

The SPPA initiative will produce industry-focused analysis, white papers, and web tools on fresh produce packaging technology for US-based speciality crop growers.  

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It also plans to conduct workshops, technical working group meetings, and launch a public-facing resource to guide stakeholders on the implementation of the guidelines. 

CPMA president Ron Lemaire said: “Packaging plays a critical role in enabling the sustainability of North American and global fresh produce supply chains – from ensuring food safety and minimising food waste to mitigating packaging waste. 

“The trend of diverging market and regulatory packaging requirements is a significant risk to fresh produce supply chains, hence the strategic importance of developing and adopting North American guidelines for fresh produce packaging.”  

WG and CPMA are also actively engaged with Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) preproposal to limit allowable fresh produce packaging in grocery stores across Canada. 

ECCC calls for a reduction in plastic packaging for produce in these stores, aiming for a 95% reduction by 2028.