Verdant Technologies to Partner with Sobeys Inc. on Innovation to Eliminate Ice from Sobeys’ Broccoli Supply Chain with HarvestHold Fresh®

Produce packing innovation extends shelf-life, replaces ice, and creates transport efficiencies.

Centennial, CO — April 8, 2024 — Verdant Technologies is expanding the adoption of its HarvestHold Fresh® product in Canada to improve the sustainability and efficiency of the North American broccoli supply chain. HarvestHold Fresh is an in-box sheet that uses an industry-standard ingredient, widely used in commodities like apples and flowers for more than two decades to extend freshness and shelf-life. HarvestHold Fresh is placed in produce boxes immediately after harvest to slow ripening and maturation so that produce can maintain its vitality and taste for longer. This innovation eliminates the need for ice when transporting broccoli, significantly reducing water use and optimizing space, which creates a more sustainable method of shelf-life preservation and makes transportation more efficient.

Empire Company Limited, parent company of Sobeys Inc. was the first major grocery retailer in North America to adopt the technology. Since 2022, Empire's growing partners have been using the ice-less HarvestHold technology in bunch broccoli packing in Quebec and Ontario at its Sobeys, IGA, Foodland, and FreschCo banner stores. The collaboration is a major development in building a more sustainable and efficient broccoli supply chain. In 2024, the partners plan to expand nationally as part of new supply chain innovation and sustainability initiative.

"Stemming from a hugely successful pilot in Ontario and Quebec, we are now working with growers across North America to expand the learnings to the entire broccoli supply chain—and what we learned was that we can realize the benefits of reduced water use, less spoilage, and fewer trucks needed for transporting produce, while improving freshness in the customer's produce grocery basket," said Myriam Tremblay, VP Produce Merchandise, Sourcing & Replenishment, Sobeys Inc. "Working with Verdant and partnering in this initiative has enabled us to implement a truly unique farm-to-plate innovation that provides advantages at each stage of the supply chain. We're excited to see what can happen at a national scale and hope to see it used with other commodities coming into our stores."

After fruits and vegetables are harvested, they release ethylene, a naturally occurring compound that accelerates the ripening process and eventually leads to over-ripening and spoilage. The active ingredient in HarvestHold Fresh blocks ethylene, delaying ripening and allowing fruits and vegetables to maintain their natural flavour and nutrients for a longer period without altering taste or nutritional value. This also results in less food spoilage and waste, reduced energy and carbon emissions involved in preparing and transporting, and in the case of ice-less broccoli, offers enhanced workplace safety with reduced slip and fall risks from melted ice. By eliminating the traditional shipping approach, growers and retailers can save up to 13,000 litres of water required per each truckload of broccoli—and customers can enjoy the product knowing it also has a smaller environmental footprint.

"Our pilot studies have demonstrated HarvestHold Fresh's transformative impact on the broccoli supply chain," said Matthew Aronson, Chief Revenue Officer of Verdant Technologies. "Through our collaborative approach with Sobeys and its grower partners, we've shown that broccoli transported without ice using HarvestHold Fresh retains its fresh, vibrant green hue and firmness up to a week longer than its ice-shipped counterparts. These findings not only confirm the effectiveness of HarvestHold Fresh, but also set a new benchmark in produce logistics and environmental stewardship."

Sobeys is collaborating with its strategic grower partners to integrate HarvestHold Fresh into other commodities and geographies later this year. For more information on Verdant Technologies, visit https://verdant-tech.com.

About Verdant Technologies:
Verdant™ Technologies is an emerging leader in the ag tech industry, offering product life extension technology for the produce industry, including HarvestHold Fresh® for fruits and vegetables. Verdant Technologies and its partners work hand-in-hand to reduce negative environmental impacts and help bring nourishment to more people in more places. Verdant Technologies has corporate offices in Denver, CO, and St. Paul, MN. More information can be found at www.verdant-tech.com.

About HarvestHold Fresh:
HarvestHold Fresh uses 1-MCP, an ingredient that has been safely employed by the produce industry for over two decades to extend the shelf-life of fruits and vegetables. With a unique slow-release technology, 3rd party research has shown HarvestHold Fresh to be more effective than traditional 1-MCP delivery methods, giving produce growers, marketers and retailers the ability to unlock the new areas of value for their operations, extend the shelf-life of their products, and help meet their commitments to reducing food waste.

ABOUT EMPIRE
Empire Company Limited (TSX: EMP.A) is a Canadian company headquartered in Stellarton, Nova Scotia. Empire's key businesses are food retailing, through wholly-owned subsidiary Sobeys Inc., and related real estate. With approximately $30.7 billion in annual sales and $16.6 billion in assets, Empire and its subsidiaries, franchisees and affiliates employ approximately 131,000 people. Additional financial information relating to Empire, including the Company's Annual Information Form, can be found on the Company's website at www.empireco.ca or on SEDAR+ at www.sedarplus.ca

Featured Product

Get enhanced vision-powered systems for Auto Farming!

Get enhanced vision-powered systems for Auto Farming!

e-con Systems leads the way in Agriculture Automation, leveraging over 20 years of expertise in OEM camera design, development, and manufacturing. e-con's diverse camera range, featuring advanced capabilities and partnerships with leading sensor technology providers like Sony, onsemi, and OmniVision, is tailored for various smart farming applications such as weed detection, bug identification, crop health monitoring, and harvesting automation. The recent addition of e-con's 20MP camera captures tiny details, enhancing efficiency in crop monitoring and automated machinery guidance. e-con cameras offer versatile interfaces, exceptional low-light performance, expert ISP tuning, multi-camera support, HDR, long-distance capabilities, and customizable features, empowering agriculture automation. e-con specializes in providing AI-ready multi-camera solutions for real-time decision-making. e-con Systems has empowered numerous clients in the smart farming industry to develop and deploy futuristic agricultural systems, including agricultural robots, autonomous tractors, and drones. As NVIDIA's Elite partner, e-con Systems revolutionizes agricultural applications with deep learning algorithms for NVIDIA Jetson kits, expediting time-to-market for customers.