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Grocers, innovators work to save $31B in food from being trashed in Canada each year





Lori Nikkel first discovered how much food gets wasted in Canada when she was a single mother to three hungry boys in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke. 

Nikkel and a group of other low-income mothers had convinced their local Loblaws grocery store to donate food to their children’s school for a student nutrition program. 

Often, Nikkel found out, the store was overstocked because it ordered too much of certain items. The excess food went to Nikkel and the school — otherwise, it would have gone to waste. 

“I remember once getting 500 pineapples,” Nikkel said. “It was great.”

Nikkel is now the CEO of Toronto-based charity Second Harvest, which connects suppliers and distributors with non-profit organizations across Ontario to distribute excess food so it doesn’t end up in landfills. This week she was on a panel at the Zero Waste Conference in Vancouver. 

The Toronto charity Second Harvest collects excess food that would otherwise go to waste and delivers it to non-profit organizations across Ontario. (Second Harvest)

Canada wastes an estimated $31 billion worth of food each year — about 40 per cent of all the food produced. More than half of that occurs before it gets to the dinner table, when it’s discarded by farmers, food manufacturers and distributors. 

Nikkel says food gets wasted across the supply chain, from farmers who can’t sell blemished apples to manufacturers that slightly mess up a batch of bread, to grocery stores that end up with too many items about to reach their best-before date. 

“People just consider it the cost of doing business,” she said. ​”Where food is getting made, there is loss across the chain.”

Food waste has become a salient topic, not only because edible food gets tossed out while millions of people go hungry. Organic waste also produces methane when it decomposes in landfills, making it one of the biggest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions.

But people like Nikkel are trying to change that. And businesses that want to root out inefficiencies to protect their bottom line are listening.

Overproduction of food

Second Harvest collects food that would otherwise go to waste and delivers it to more than 300 non-profit organization across Ontario. The organization focuses on fresh food, like produce, meat and dairy. 

“There is an overproduction of food globally and it actually leapfrogs over people and goes into landfills, creating a huge environmental challenge,” she said during a lunch break at the conference on Thursday.

Other groups at the conference dedicated to preventing waste included Vancouver-based tech start-up FoodMesh, which also connects surplus foods to charities, and Provision Coalition, which works directly with food and drink manufacturers to help them become more efficient. 

One of the other people on the panel with Nikkel was Sam Wankowski, Walmart Canada’s senior vice-president of operations for Western Canada. 

Last April, Walmart committed to have zero food waste across its organization by 2025. 

“It just makes good business sense,” Wankowski said. “If we can … improve the efficiencies of our processes and our infrastructure, that just increases value for everyone.”

‘We can do a lot more’

Walmart came under a lot of criticism in 2016, when a CBC Marketplace investigation found garbage bins full of produce, bottled water, frozen foods, meat and dairy products that appeared to still be fresh and safe for consumption. 

But Wankowski says the company’s new policy didn’t stem from that criticism. He says Walmart’s food waste reduction initiatives were already underway by then, and the company has decreased food waste by 23 per cent over the last few years. 

“We know we can do better and we can do a lot more,” he said. 

Bins full of food behind a Toronto-area Walmart store in 2016. Walmart says it has improved store processes and employee training to keep food out of the bins. (CBC)

Walmart has implemented several tactics to decrease food waste, Wankowski said. First and foremost it’s trying to sell the food it carries — this means more precise tools to forecast demand so it can order accordingly — and dropping the prices of soon-to-be expired items. 

And through its philanthropic arm, the Walmart Foundation, the company is giving away $19 million to organizations that help reduce food waste in Canada. 

‘There’s good food out there’

Some critics say that diverting excess food that would otherwise end up in landfills or elsewhere won’t solve world hunger. 

University of British Columbia professor emeritus Graham Riches explores that issue in his new book, Food Bank Nations: Poverty, Corporate Capture and the Right to Food. He argues that the best way to help people who need access to food is to give them a living wage so they can afford it, instead of receiving charity.

More than half of Canada’s food waste comes from the supply chain. The remaining 47 per cent is wasted by households.

Nikkel​ agrees that a lack of adequate income is one of the main drivers of hunger, but she says there’s work to be done until then.

She adds that the food she distributes doesn’t need to just go to those in need — it’s simply surplus food that shouldn’t be wasted. 

“This doesn’t necessarily have to be about low income,” she said. “There’s good food out there, why aren’t we eating it?”



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Real Estate

Couple from Toronto buys dream home in Mushaboom





MUSHABOOM – A couple who lived and raised a family in downtown Toronto developed a five-year plan in 2015 to purchase their dream home.

In September they moved into the home – located on Malagash Island in Mushaboom on Nova Scotia’s stunning Eastern Shore – that met and exceeded their best dreams for their retirement.

The Camerons, Bruce and Tanya, decided in 2019 they would explore the Maritimes to see what real estate was available to become their potential retirement home. In the spring of 2020, during a global pandemic, the real estate boom hit their city, and they were hearing the same for Nova Scotia. Our province was their first-choice for attaining their desire for an entirely different lifestyle – away from the busyness of the city.

“We had $300,000 to $350,000 as a home value in mind to buy. Our semi-detached located off Danforth in Toronto was priced at $850,000. We wanted to come out ahead, so we would be secure in retirement,” Tanya said.

Their century-old home had prime location near the subway and GO Transit Line for a great 13-minute commute downtown.

“We enjoyed our community,” explains Bruce “… we had great neighbours, young children around and street parties – lots of social activity.”

Bruce says, “Our agent suggested a starting quote of $899,000. We did not do any renovations and only some staging. Fifty couples went through and we received four significant offers. Six days later we sold – with zero conditions – and a price of over a million dollars. We just requested a closing of September 2020 to get the kids off to school – which we got.”

The couple got more than they had anticipated.

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Real Estate

Rabobank Announces Leadership Changes in U.S., Canadian Offices





NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Rabobank, the leading global food and agribusiness bank, has appointed two of its top executives, Tamira Treffers-Herrera and Robert Sinescu, to become Co-Heads of North American Client Coverage, positioning the Bank for future growth in the region.

Treffers-Herrera has also assumed the role of Vice Chairperson and Head of the Atlanta office, where she additionally oversees Rabobank Mexico, which is led by Eduardo Palacios. Sinescu is the Head of the Chicago office, and also oversees Rabobank Canada, led by Marc Drouin, who was recently appointed as Canada’s General Manager.

Treffers-Herrera and Sinescu report to David Bassett, Head of Wholesale Banking North America, the Bank’s corporate and investment banking business for the region based in New York.

“Both Tamira and Robert have a demonstrated history of strong leadership, operational excellence and passion for our clients,” Bassett said. “Their broad experience and deep sector expertise will be invaluable in delivering dynamic results for clients while accelerating our growth trajectory in North America.”

Each office will have an even greater focus on key Food & Agribusiness sectors and clients: The Chicago office will drive growth in sectors including Dairy, Farm Inputs and Grains & Oilseeds, which are also key areas of focus for the Canada office. The Atlanta office will focus heavily on sectors such as Animal Protein, Beverages, Sugar, and Supply Chains, which are important sectors in Mexico as well.

“Rabobank is fully committed to our clients throughout North America, and we believe our new sector-focused coverage will improve our ability to provide knowledge-based, value-added solutions that benefit our clients,” Bassett said.

Treffers-Herrera was most recently based in London as CEO of Rabobank’s European Region from 2016-2020, where she took the organization through Brexit. Prior to that, she worked in the Atlanta office from 2002-2016. During her tenure in Atlanta, Treffers-Herrera served as Global Sector Head – Consumer Food & Beverages, and prior to that she was a senior banker for a portfolio of large beverage and consumer foods clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky, a Master of Arts from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce and has studied at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Harvard Business School.

Sinescu has been with Rabobank for over 21 years and was previously General Manager of Rabobank Canada, where he oversaw all operations, business development, commercial strategy and relationships with regulators. In addition, he continues to serve as CEO of Rabo Securities Canada Inc. Prior to Canada, he was a senior banker, Head of Corporate Banking, European Sector Head for Sugar, and a member of the Management Team for Rabobank France. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from the Bucharest School of Business, a Master of Business Administration & Management and a Master of Science in Banking and Corporate Finance from Sorbonne University in Paris, and has studied at Brown University.

Drouin has worked with Rabobank’s Canadian team for more than nine years and most recently served as a senior banker, Head of Rabobank Canada’s AgVendor Program and a member of Rabobank Canada’s Management Team. He brings extensive wholesale banking experience within the Dairy, G&O, CPG and Supply Chain sectors. Drouin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University and a Master of Business Administration in International Finance, Marketing and Management from the Schulich School of Business at York University.

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Real Estate

Greybrook Realty Partners & Marlin Spring Brand Jointly Owned Asset Manager – Greyspring Apartments





TORONTO, Dec. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Greybrook Realty Partners and Marlin Spring are pleased to announce the new branding of their jointly owned investment and asset management firm, Greyspring Apartments. With a portfolio of more than 2,000 units and CAD$375 million in assets under management, Greyspring Apartments is focused on the acquisition and repositioning of multi-family assets throughout Canada.

The new name and branding is an important step in Greyspring’s evolution as an independent operating business. Formed in 2018 by long standing-partners Marlin Spring and Greybrook Realty Partners, Greyspring Apartments was established with the goal of building a leading asset management firm with a robust portfolio of residential rental real estate assets in primary and secondary markets across Canada.

Greyspring’s talented team of real estate, asset management and finance professionals is overseen and guided by the Management Board, whose members include Benjamin Bakst, CEO, Marlin Spring; Elliot Kazarnovksy, CFO, Marlin Spring; Sasha Cucuz, CEO, Greybrook Securities Inc.; Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Chris Salapoutis, President & COO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Ashi Mathur, President, Marlin Spring; and Karl Brady. In addition to his role on the Management Board, Karl Brady leads Greyspring Apartments as its President. 

“We are pleased to announce the official name and branding of a business we formed with our partners at Marlin Spring a few years ago,” said Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners. “Greyspring has been diligently focused on the execution of strategic value-add programs across its portfolio that are improving the quality of housing for tenants and overall asset values. For Greybrook investors, expanding from our core business in real estate development to the value-add space through Greyspring, has allowed us to provide our clients with investment opportunities that diversify their real estate investment portfolios.”

“Marlin Spring and Greybrook have partnered on many residential real estate projects in recent years,” said Benjamin Bakst, CEO and Cofounder, Marlin Spring. “To a great extent, Greyspring illustrates our approach to partnerships. We believe in, and strive for, responsible growth through deepening our relationships with our trusted partners. With Greyspring, we’ve formalized our focus on providing better and more affordable living experiences for Canadians. This vision aligns with our mission to deliver exceptional real estate value to all our stakeholders with an uncompromising adherence to our core values.”

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