Supply management | The imported kits use cheese amounts that circumvent tariffs
Alberta dairy producers like pizza because of its generous use of cheese.
But they aren’t fans of pizza made from “pizza kits” that contain imported cheese and are used by Canadian companies to make pies for retail sale.
In September, Dairy Farmers of Canada launched a challenge through the Canadian International Trade Tribunal seeking a ruling on pizza kits.
Hennie Bos, chair of Alberta Milk and a member of the DFC board, explained the problem Oct. 30 to dairy producers in Alberta’s south region. He said imported ingredients that circumvent tariff protection provided by supply management remain a big issue for both organizations.
Food must include more than 80 percent cheese to be classified as a cheese product under Canadian rules. The pizza kits in question contain 79.8 percent cheese.
As such, they are classified as a food preparation and not subject to tariff.
“This particular product, the pizza kit, is coming in and it is prepared specifically to circumvent this classification,” Bos said in an interview after his presentation to dairy producers.
“It is clearly a way to circumvent the tariff on cheese.”
He said the matter was raised with the federal ministers of agriculture and international trade, but no action was taken. A CITT challenge was the only remaining route.
The challenge is likely to be heard this spring and if successful, Bos said it may prompt government to create an “anti-circumvention provision” to discourage similar products.
Bos said dairy farmers also have a problem with the small dairy creamers and milkers used in coffee and hot beverages.
“These products are no longer made of solely milk and cream. Cheaper ingredients are used to replace the milk. Some of those ingredients may very well be imported protein concentrates,” he said.
Substituting other ingredients for milk and cream robs Canadian producers of revenue and may also mislead consumers if they think the product is 100 percent dairy.
“The consumer has not been informed that the product has changed,” he said.
“I think that is something that we should not accept as an industry, but also not as a society.”
Bos said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has been informed of the matter.