Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Food Sector Strong Enough to Go It Alone, Says Conference Board

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Food Sector Strong Enough to Go It Alone, Says Conference Board

Article excerpt

Food sector can go it alone: report


OTTAWA - Canada's food industry would do fine -- better in fact -- if supply management and other government supports were eliminated, a new report from the Conference Board argues.

While it's not the first time the Ottawa-based think-tank has called for market liberalization of Canada's protected agricultural sector, the report calls on producers to look to the demand explosion in emerging markets for growth, and not simply protecting their domestic turf.

It notes the major source of growth in the word's food demand is in countries that are already net food importers.

"The Canadian food industry's prospects are better than ever: the sky is the limit," the report issued Monday states.

"We know, for instance, that most of the two billion additional people that the world will add between now and 2050 will be in developing countries.

"These countries are getting richer, increasing their average calorie consumption, and relying more on meat and less on starches for their dietary needs."

The report comes as Canada is being asked by trading partners to dismantle supply management systems that protect domestic producers of eggs, milk and poultry. Eliminating or reforming the system is a key demand of the European Union in free trade talks with Canada.

The think-tank says Canada is well-positioned to take advantage of the expected explosion in demand, but it faces a strategic cross-roads.

The status-quo is sustainable, it says. But the industry could do better by deregulating and competing for the growing global market.

Canadian cheese maker Saputo Inc. chief executive Lino Saputo Jr. said he had not read the report, but added the company would do fine even if the supply management system is dismantled. On Monday, Saputo announced it is seeking to expand its U.S. business by acquiring Morningstar Foods for US$1. …

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