The University of Guelph says it has created Canada's first academic chair in sustainable food engineering.

The chair -- which is backed by a five-million-dollar gift from the Barrett Family Foundation -- is intended to develop innovative ways to improve food processing and production.

Guelph's president Franco Vaccarino says about half of all food produced worldwide is wasted during processing and transport or in kitchens and supermarkets.

At the same time, he says, consumers are demanding products that are safe, fresh and environmentally friendly, with a longer shelf life.

He says sustainable food engineering will benefit industry, consumers and the environment.