Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Dairy Farmers, Restaurant Owners, Say 'Cheese' with New Class of Mozzarella

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Dairy Farmers, Restaurant Owners, Say 'Cheese' with New Class of Mozzarella

Article excerpt

New class of mozza could mean cheaper pizza

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OTTAWA - Canada's dairy farmers have changed the rules they use to classify milk that goes into making mozzarella cheese.

And that could result in cheaper fresh-made pizzas for consumers across the country.

The new milk class, to take effect June 1, is expected to result in lower costs for Canadian-made mozzarella for restaurants that prepare and cook pizzas on site.

The move could also slow or halt the erosion of domestic cheese sales to pizza restaurants.

The battle to cut the cost of mozzarella for pizza restaurants has been fought for nearly 15 years, ever since frozen pizza makers -- including frozen-food giant McCain -- won an exemption from Ottawa that allowed them to buy cheese at the cheaper world market price.

"There's been an inequity with frozen pizza versus fresh pizza with the exact same mozza cheese, and we've been pushing and pushing and pushing (for changes)," said Garth Whyte, president of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

"This is a major first step on dealing with this issue, and will be significant savings to our members who sell pizza."

It remains to be seen whether dairy processors will pass the savings from the new '3d' classification on to restaurant owners.

A number of restaurant chains recently began circumventing hefty cheese tariffs by importing their mozzarella by way of pizza topping kits.

The Canada Border Services Agency last year designated the boxed cheese-and-pepperoni combinations as a food preparation, rather than simply cheese, meaning they could be imported duty-free.

That sent dairy farmers into panic mode, with the Dairy Farmers of Ontario telling delegates at a regional meeting last fall that the designation was having a "negative impact on domestic mozzarella sales and could have an even greater impact going forward. …

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