Government of Canada launches Food Waste Reduction Challenge 

News release

November 19, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Today, while speaking at the Arrell Food Summit, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, launched the first two streams of the Government of Canada’s Food Waste Reduction Challenge, part of the Food Policy for Canada.

According to estimates, more than half of Canada’s food supply is wasted annually and $49.5 billion of that wasted food is avoidable. Food is wasted from farm to plate, through production, processing, distribution, retail, food-service and at home.

Challenge Streams A and B are now open for concept applications with a closing date of January 18, 2021. Up to $10.8 million will be awarded to innovators with an innovative way of “doing business” (that is, a new business model) that can prevent or divert food waste at any point from farm-to-plate.

The Food Waste Reduction Challenge will use a stage-gated approach to move innovators through the process of developing and deploying their solutions. At each stage of the Challenge, an external group of subject matter experts will recommend which applicants move to the following stage and receive funding. For Challenge Streams A and B, at the last stage, one winner per stream will be awarded a grand prize of up to $1.5M.

Funding will be awarded to those whose innovative solutions have the potential of reducing the most amount of food waste, with a focus on new innovators looking to accelerate and grow their solutions and who may not have the necessary resources.

Altogether, the Food Waste Reduction Challenge is a $20M investment. The launch of two additional challenge streams focused on technological solutions to food waste is planned for spring 2021. Challenge Streams C and D will support technologies that can extend the life of food or transform food that would otherwise be lost or wasted. 


“Reducing food waste is necessary for so many reasons: it can help save consumers money, improve food security, support efficiency in the agriculture and food sector, and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Through this exciting challenge, our Government is finding new ways of reducing food waste across the supply chain.”

- The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food 

“In order to meet our climate targets, Canada must address emissions from all sectors, including emissions from food loss and waste. From production, to transportation, to disposal in landfills, food loss and waste is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The Food Waste Reduction Challenge will help Canadians develop innovative and effective solutions to this problem and I am excited to see the results.”

- The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

"As Canada’s 'food university', the University of Guelph applauds Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau on the announcement of the Food Waste Reduction Challenge at the 2020 Arrell Food Summit. This challenge will help spur innovative solutions to the problem of food waste throughout Canada's food supply chain. It also aligns perfectly with U of G's Arrell Food Institute's mission of elevating our food system to improve life."

- Charlotte Yates – University of Guelph President and Vice-Chancellor

“With nearly one third of all food produced lost or wasted, tackling food waste is critical to build a more sustainable future. The funding announced today at the Arrell Food Summit by Minister Bibeau will help do just that and also create a great opportunity for young Canadians to ensure our country becomes a world leader on this issue.”

- Dr. Evan Fraser, Director of the Arrell Food Institute

“The National Zero Waste Council congratulates AAFC on introducing the Food Waste Reduction Challenge, which will help address food loss and waste by giving our nation’s small and medium companies a chance to scale up their innovative business models while also encouraging leadership from the biggest players. We are pleased that the Challenge aligns so well with our Food Loss and Waste Strategy for Canada, and applaud the Government of Canada for its leadership and support for efforts to reduce food loss and waste for the benefit of Canada’s food security, economy and climate.”

- Malcolm Brodie, Chair, National Zero Waste Council 

“Canadian food & beverage companies are at the forefront of the battle against food loss and waste, but there is still a long way to go - last year we helped identify over 11 million kilograms of preventable food waste in just 50 companies. The Food Waste Reduction Challenge has a very important role to play in helping raise awareness of the opportunity that exists, as well as accelerating new solutions that will help companies prevent and reduce their waste.”

- Cher Mereweather, President & CEO of Provision Coalition

Quick facts

  • 8% of all greenhouse gases worldwide are the result of food waste. 

  • Eligible participants of the Challenge could include for-profit and non-profit organizations, Indigenous organizations, community groups, Canadian academic institutions, regional and municipal governments, and individuals. The Challenge is open to international applicants with a Canadian partner or an ability to register to do business in Canada.

  • The Food Policy for Canada is a roadmap for a healthier and more sustainable food system in Canada – one that builds on the Government’s ambitious agenda to support the growth of Canada’s farmers and food businesses, as well as key federal initiatives.

  • The Food Policy for Canada will also help the country meet its commitments under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, including to end hunger, promote good health, cut food waste, and encourage sustainable food systems.

  • The Government of Canada is also supporting the reduction of food waste during COVID-19 through the Surplus Food Rescue Program. This program diverts excess food from waste or disposal while addressing food insecurity of vulnerable populations impacted by the pandemic.

  • Canada is committed to the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, which sets a target to “halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses” by 2030.

Associated links


Jean-Sébastien Comeau
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
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