MPs heard a familiar message several weeks ago when Canada’s restaurant industry staged a Parliament Hill lobby day — high dairy prices hurt their business.
Canadian Dairy Commission leaders heard the same message in a face-to-face meeting.
Last week, the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association followed up with a concrete proposal.
It sent a letter to the Canadian Dairy Commission proposing a two-tier cheese pricing policy that would give products destined for the restaurant sector a lower price.
Frozen pizza manufacturers who must compete with imports have a deal that lowers the price of their mozzarella cheese.
They produce product for home consumption that competes with restaurant meals.
“Lower-priced cheese for restaurants will level an uneven playing field that forces fresh pizza makers to pay 30 percent more for mozzarella cheese than frozen pizza manufacturers,” wrote the CRFA.
While the value of restaurant orders are increasing, pizza orders “have decreased by a stark 12 percent,” CRFA president Garth Whyte said.
“The restaurant industry wants to help reverse these disturbing trends. We want to be part of a growing dairy industry.”
He noted that dairy products purchased for restaurant sales are worth $2.5 billion annually.
“As one of your largest customers, we want to do more to promote and grow the market for Canada’s high-quality dairy products,” said the CRFA.
“Unjustifiably high prices, however, are having the opposite effect.”
Whyte said dairy farmers are becoming more efficient, but the benefits are not being passed onto consumers.
“Over the past several years, dairy price increases have vastly outpaced the cost of production, making Canadian dairy prices far higher than other industrialized countries,” he wrote.
The association called for a government policy to amend supply management to “bring dairy prices to a more competitive level while ensuring a fair return to producers.”