Export Development Canada (EDC), Canada’s Export Credit Agency based in Ottawa, has announced a $1 million investment into Canadian clean technology company P&P Optica (PPO), a Waterloo, ON-based firm that uses imaging and machine-learning to assess food composition and quality as well as detect contamination by foreign objects. Benefits include improving the overall Canadian food supply and reducing waste in this country’s landfills.
According to a 2017 Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) report, North Americans waste close to 170 million tonnes of food each year from pre-harvest to consumer sectors. Much of this waste is influenced by how products are moved along the food supply chain, such as in food processors.
“Improving food quality and safety is extremely important to us while reducing the environmental footprint that comes with food waste. The investment from EDC will help us both further develop our technology and expand into the US and other markets as we work towards becoming a global company,” said the CEO of P&P Optica, Olga Pawluczyk.
“In turn, this will ensure that food processors can assess and respond to risks in the quality and safety of their food more quickly and effectively than ever before.”
How does it work: PPO’s patented Smart Imaging System is installed in food processing plants and uses imaging technology and artificial intelligence to read the chemistry of food. This allows processors to assess quality characteristics such as protein, fat and water content, shelf life; and flavour. PPO’s unique technology can detect even very small unwanted objects such as plastics, rubber, and bone in food while it’s moving along the conveyor belt at line speed – this is a feature that has not previously been possible for food processors and which significantly enhances food safety.
“As an EDC ‘Ones to Watch’ award recipient, P&P Optica is the kind of cleantech company that we are proud to partner with. We recognize how their unique technology reduces food waste and the environmental impacts that come with it,” said Carl Burlock, senior vice-president of Financing and International Growth Capital at EDC.
“Supporting Canadian cleantech companies and helping them grow and succeed internationally is a top priority for EDC. We look forward to seeing PPO evolve beyond Canadian borders by offering the global food industry access to viable solutions.”
The funding from EDC will be used to advance the development of PPO’s Smart Imaging Systems, as well as deployment into food processing plants across North America. As the only company on the continent to offer this solution, PPO is uniquely positioned to provide its clients with rich insights about the chemistry of the food they’re processing, which are not available from any other product on the market today.