Canadian Parliament Member Dan Albas (from left), talks with Perry Lidster, president of Innovative Food Systems Corp., and Pascal Delaquis, research scientist at Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, after announcing a grant to Innovative Food Systems for packaging research.
Canadian Parliament Member Dan Albas (from left), talks with Perry Lidster, president of Innovative Food Systems Corp., and Pascal Delaquis, research scientist at Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, after announcing a grant to Innovative Food Systems for packaging research.

Efforts at Innovative Food Systems Corp. to develop better produce shipping containers recently got a boost of $261,000 from the Canadian government.

The investment in packaging research and development has the potential to open new markets for Canadian growers and shippers because it will prolong shelf life and help prevent microbial contamination, Canadian Parliament Member Dan Albas said when he announced the grant earlier this month at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Center in Summerland, British Columbia. The grant was through the Developing Innovative Agri-Products program.

According to a news release from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the grant will be used by a team that includes staff from the national department and Innovative Food Systems in Summerland.

Perry Lidster, president and chief executive officer for Innovative Food Systems, said the new shipping containers preserve the freshness of fruits and vegetables for more than a month, compared to the one week that traditional containers provide.

“With this new technology, produce can be protected from many common food pathogens. This is important for fresh produce consumed in the home but also to the institutional food suppliers,” Lidster said in the news release.

Lidster said Aug. 24 that the company is working on additional financing and has plans to launch the new containers this fall.

In addition to adapting “natural, known antimicrobial compounds into commercial packaging systems” the shipping containers allow produce to be cooled when the lids are in place. Also, the containers allow fresh produce to be harvested and shipped at a more mature stage.

Canada’s horticulture industry generated almost $6 billion in farm cash receipts in 2010, according to the agriculture department. It also produced nearly $3.6 billion in exports. The grant program for innovative agriculture products has awarded $158 million. All grant projects must be completed by the end of March 2013.