Energy efficiency



This section examines how to make the food system more energy efficient, given a very negative input - output ratio, and heavy dependence on fossil fuels.  It also examines energy generation along the supply chain.  Energy projects on agricultural land that are not targeted for on-farm use are discussed under Goal 5, Agricultural Land Protection.  Energy from food waste projects are also discussed under Goal 5, Reducing food waste.  Large biofuel initiatives that use agricultural crops as feedstock are discussed under Goal 5 Sustainable Bioproducts and also Goal 5 Sustainable Transportation.

Adetona AB and Layzell DB, 2019. Anthropogenic energy and carbon flows through Canada’s agri-food system: Reframing climate change solutions, Anthropocene 27 (2019), 100213.


co-products from input manufacturing that reduce energy footprint


Farmers for Climate Solutions

2021 federal budget proposes $50 million for more efficient grain dryers. Existing $185 million Agricultural Climate Solutions program, and the $165 million Agricultural Clean Technology Program.  Plus in 2021 budget an additional $200 million  to Agricultural Climate solutions for improving nitrogen management, increasing adoption of cover cropping, and normalizing rotational grazing. $60 million over the next two years, from the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund to target the protection of existing wetlands and trees on farms, including through a reverse auction pilot program. Allocate $10 million over the next two years, from the Agricultural Clean
Technology Program toward powering farms with clean energy and moving
off diesel.

Biofuels Watch

Normative considerations in the bioeconomy transition,


IQF vs. regular freezing, energy use? Flash freezing, flash heating/sterilization/pasteurization?

There are the usual issues with energy efficient industrial buildings, lighting, efficient motors, efficient heating and cooling systems, solar panel, heat exchange, geothermal, etc.  But what about the energy used to process the food.  There are numerous new technologies for that as well, but while reducing energy use, what impact do they have on food quality.  And are they scalable to different size ranges.  Food irradiation is no alternative.  High pressure processing, pulsed electric fields?? (Wang, 2014).

“A dry-ing process, on average, consumes 6 MJ of heat to remove 1 kg of water from products, and a freezing process consumes 1 MJ (or 0.3 kWh) of electricity to process 1 kg of food products at -20 °C (Wang 2008)” Wang, L. 2014. Energy efficiency technologies for sustainable food processing Energy Efficiency (2014) 7:791–810.  Wang also says that over 50% of energy use in US food processing is natural gas.  About half of all energy inputs go to process raw materials into food (almost 60% is process heat and dehydration/evaporation, boiler fuel is a huge component), the rest for secondary processes in facilities.  Refrigeration uses 15% of total energy use worldwide?? [does shortening supply chains reduce refrigeration expenses?]

So, what processing can be deemed unnecessary or undesirable because of the energy costs and poor quality product? Really four strategies: make equipment more efficient, change the energy source, change the process, reduce the use of the process (by changing the consumption mix reformulating the recipe).

High pressure processing (HPP), less denaturing because less heat, but high capital costs and what about energy? Can’t be used on a lot of foods because doesn’t get rid of spores.

Energy costs of microfiltration? Some have moved to microfiltration rather than HPP.

I would say there is some mandate as this is a great energy efficiency as well as resilience measure. IESO encourages these upgrades as well through Business Refrigeration program (and was in retrofit program at least before). I'm sure there is a report with some evaluation numbers. Interesting to note that my usual Sobeys is currently replacing their open refrigerated cases with units with doors.


NRCan has good guide to jurisdiction of regulations here:


For Ontario, there is a provincial regulation that overrides the federal standard – however I could see the current provincial government aligning with the federal regulation as they have done in other cases. So, might be worth putting in the National Adaptation Strategy.


As for backup power, I know several grocery stores with back-up generators – but not sure how common this is. Also, based on my observations, it's very common to have point-of-sale connected to Uninterruptible Power Supplies so that at least short-term sales would continue in a blackout (15min? timeframe) – obviously this isn't sufficient for longer outages.

Distribution and transportation

Retail, including online orders for home delivery and box schemes

Food service

Waste management including sewage systems

Alot of processing waste, rendering waste and dead stock can be used for creating biodiesel or renewable diesel. Canada has been slow to develop capacity using these feedstocks and has been in a perverse trading system, where for example, animal fat from processing plants is sent to Singapore and the renewable diesel produced from that fat is then shipped back to Canada.  A number of plants are in development or planning expansions and this will hopefully come on-stream in the next few years to reduce this situation (Arnason, 2021).

Integrated strategies across food supply chains


Canadian Farm Resilience Administration, and governments buying the shares in the top 10 oil and gas companies NFU and Qualmann (2021)

Agricultural Clean Technology Program