The Toronto-based Ontario Produce Marketing Association is hosting a series of workshops on how to increase profits by cutting food waste.

Six participants from across the value chain attended the first seminar Feb. 8 at the Ontario Food Terminal to learn how to measurably reduce food loss and waste in their companies.

The initiative is the first of its kind in North America, said OPMA president Virginia Zimm.

The eight seminars are being led by food waste expert Martin Gooch, CEO of Value Chain Management International, based in Oakville, just west of Toronto, with input from Peter Whitehead, who has worked with the Institute of Grocery Distributors in the U.K.

Gooch estimates that food waste in Canada exceeds $30 billion a year.

Cutting waste across the food industry is not only good for the planet, he said, but attacking it can save companies millions of dollars and make them more profitable.

He said the resources retailers invest in storing and distributing food that is wasted often exceed the face value of the food itself.

Instead, he advises removing waste at the source to immediately reduce costs.

The next workshop is scheduled for March 29 at the Ontario Food Terminal.

To apply, contact Dee Kleeman at dee@theopma.ca or call 416-519-9390, ext. 233.

Though the series is free, thanks to funding from Ontario’s Agricultural Adaptation Council, participants are asked to contribute about $20 for lunch.