The federal government is providing $2.4 million in repayable funding to help Waterloo-based P&P Optica showcase its innovative food-inspection technology to the meat-processing industry.

The company’s Smart Imaging System uses hyperspectral imaging to chemically analyze food as it rolls down the production line. The technology can assess food quality and the presence of foreign objects in real time, improving food safety and preventing losses from potential contamination or product recalls.

"P&P Optica Inc.’s technology gives processors essential information that provides many benefits, including helping to reduce food waste," Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, said in a news release. "Our government is committed to investing in innovative projects that support the long-term growth and success of our agriculture and agri-food sector.”

Waterloo MP Bardish Chagger applauded P&P Optica for its leadership role in food-inspection technology.

“Not only is the company an innovator in Canada and internationally, it is also a community leader right here in Waterloo,” said Chagger. “Our support for the company’s innovative approach will help meat processors improve quality and sustainability.”

P&P Optica’s roots stretch back to 1995 when the company was launched as a research and consulting company specializing in optics technology. Over the years, it evolved and began making its own spectrometers – scientific instruments that use the physics of light to measure the composition of objects. Since 2015, P&P Optica has applied its hyperspectral-imaging expertise to the food-processing industry.

“PPO is focused on working with food processors to improve the safety and quality of our food supply, while reducing waste,” said CEO Olga Pawluczyk. “We’re excited about the opportunity to promote our automated inspection system, which is already operating in plants across the U.S., to Canadian meat processors. We believe the Canadian meat industry, already a global leader in quality products, can increase our competitive edge even further by using technologies like PPO’s Smart Imaging System.”

The funding announced today comes through the Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food’s AgriInnovate program, which provides repayable interest-free funding for up to 50 per cent of the cost of an eligible project.