Maple Leaf Challenges COOL Legislation

by 5m Editor
26 November 2008, at 11:12am

CANADA - Maple Leaf Consumer Foods says U.S. Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling has impacted the ability of Canadian processors to compete in the U.S. retail market and needs to be challenged, writes Bruce Cochrane.

Mandatory U.S. Country of Origin Labelling, implemented September 30, requires a variety of food products including fresh pork to be identified according to its country of origin at retail.

Maple Leaf Consumer Foods executive vice-president Gary Maksymetz reports the new labelling requirements have dramatically impacted the ability of Canadian processors to move product into the U.S. retail market.

Gary Maksymetz-Maple Leaf Consumer Foods

First off, the COOL legislation is obviously detrimental for trade.

It imposes restrictions on the movement, to some degree, into the U.S. because of the labelling requirements so it does add complexity and cost for U.S. retailers which then translates into our ability to access those markets at the same kind of conditions that the Americans do.

So, with respect to direct export of meat into the U.S., we've seen retailers that are changing their strategy in terms of their requirements in terms of where they buy their pork.

Some retailers I think have chosen to go with exclusive U.S. pork only.

Their reasons obviously are theirs however I think a part of it is the complexity of having to label and identify country of origin adds challenges in their merchandising.

If they're going to be advertising pork in their regular weekly flyers, there's an added complexity now of identifying which stores might have product of Canada, product of Canada and the U.S. or product of the U.S. so I think it's had some impact in terms of how retailers view merchandising.

Maksymetz says Maple Leaf is cooperating with the government and he believes the legislation needs to be challenged.

He notes American pork at par is appearing in Canada and the labelling requirements are not the same as they are in the U.S.

He stresses we compete in a North American environment and we need the requirements to be fair for all.