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Loblaw Net-Zero Food Systems Challenge

The University of Guelph and Loblaw Companies Limited have partnered to challenge tomorrow’s food leaders and develop solutions for a net-zero food system in Canada, through a new 6-month graduate student experiential learning program at the university.

The Loblaw Net-Zero Food Systems Challenge will bring together graduate students from across Canada to investigate strategic levers that will drive Canadian adoption and demand for net-zero agricultural products along the value chain, from farmers to consumers. Graduate students have been selected for the 2023 challenge and we look forward to working with them over the next several months.

About the program

The 6-month program is being run by Arrell Food Institute and the Ontario Agricultural College at the University of Guelph. Loblaw will provide financial support and the opportunity of real-world sector insight. Graduate students selected to participate in this program will be exploring two themes:

  1. How food retailers can work with others in the value chain to create incentives that encourage farmers to adopt regenerative farming practices that absorb greenhouse gases. This includes exploring how these practices may point the way to creating soil carbon measurement, verification and reporting tools that form the basis of carbon markets.
  2. How food retailers can encourage consumer awareness and purchase behaviors of climate-responsible products, farmed with net-zero practices.

From May 2023 to November 2023, research pieces and policy relevant plans will be developed by teams of students. The program will kick-off with a five day in-person workshop in May at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario. Following the workshop, students will work together virtually until November 2023 to prepare plans that can be implemented by the retail sector. As part of the program, students will have access to research and industry experts for their advice and mentorship. This is a unique opportunity for graduate students to have a tangible impact on Canada’s food system and a carbon neutral future while broadening their resume and professional network.

Student testimonial

Arrell Food Institute hosted a similar interdisciplinary program in 2022 for graduate students and practitioners on the topic of circular economies. Here’s what one participant said about their experience:

An inspiring week of collaborative learning in the classroom and in the field! The organizers were incredible, the lessons were eye opening, the concepts were stirring, and the collaborations were invaluable. I will use these lessons in my research”

Participant benefits

  • A unique opportunity to have a tangible impact on Canada’s food system and a carbon neutral future while broadening your resume and professional network

  • Receive training and coaching from industry experts and researchers

  • Gain experience developing research pieces and creating policy relevant plans

  • Develop peer networks and work with students in other fields and institutions