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Tenth meeting of the Food Processing Industry Roundtable: Record of decision

October 3 to 4, 2018 – Ottawa, Ontario

Opening remarks

  • The interim Government Co-chair and Industry Co-chair welcomed approximately 60 participants to the tenth meeting of the Food Processing Industry Roundtable (FPIRT) that took place on October 3 and 4, 2018 in Ottawa, Ontario.

Recap since the last Food Processing Industry Roundtable meeting

  • The Industry Co-chair provided an overview of his engagement representing the Roundtable since its last meeting in December 2017, which included:
    • Meeting with the Chair of the Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table (Agri-Food EST) at the Conseil de la transformation alimentaire du Québec conference in March
    • Taking part in the All Chairs Value Chain Roundtable Forum meeting in April where an interactive discussion was held between the All Chairs on Roundtable priorities
    • Presenting on the topic of innovation and adoption of technology at the federal-provincial-territorial Deputy Ministers meeting in Montreal in May
  • The Industry Co-chair noted the FPIRT priorities aligned with the themes identified by the Agri-Food EST as discussions focused on labour, regulations, market access, and innovation.
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) presented an update on the FPIRT targets. Given the release of the Agri-Food EST report, FPIRT targets will be amended accordingly.

Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table

  • An overview of the Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table (Agri-Food EST) final report was provided by AAFC. The Agri-Food EST developed a vision to make Canada one of the top five competitors in the global agri-food sector. The Table also set ambitious growth targets for the sector by 2025, including:
    • $140 billion in domestic sales of agriculture and agri-food products from $110 billion in 2017
    • $85 billion in agri-food exports from $64.6 billion in 2017
  • The FPIRT’s five priority areas of innovation, regulatory environment, labour, sustainability and export markets are closely aligned with the recommendations of the Agri-Food EST which include:
    • Addressing the labour challenges that hinder the growth of the sector
    • Working more collaboratively with regulators to ensure that industry competitiveness is a major consideration in the regulatory development process
    • Increasing the industry’s investments in capital and research and development
    • Overcoming the industry’s reliance on the U.S. market to increase our exports in fast growing markets
  • The Industry Co-chair will follow-up with a letter to the Ministers of AAFC and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to propose that FPIRT develop a path forward for implementing the recommendations.

Food Safety

  • The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) provided an overview of the key elements of the Safe Foods for Canadian Regulations (SFCR) which included licensing, preventive control, traceability, importing, and exporting, as well as timelines for its coming into force.
  • A discussion ensued where concern was expressed regarding CFIA’s level of resources to implement the regulations, consistency of inspection across facilities, licensing challenge for some sectors, provincially regulated meat plants not on a level playing field with those that are federally regulated, and increased cost burden to industry.

Regulatory review of the Agri-Food and Aquaculture Sectors and Healthy Eating Strategy

  • Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) and the CFIA provided an overview of the on-going Agri-Food and Aquaculture Sector Regulatory Review.
  • TBS is leading the regulatory reform agenda aimed at making our regulatory system more responsive, agile and transparent. The CFIA is collating the input provided by stakeholders and working with AAFC, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, to develop a Regulatory Roadmap for the agri-food and aquaculture sector.
  • Industry discussion emphasized the importance of addressing irritants that limit growth, competitiveness and innovation.
  • The Regulatory Review Roadmap will be shared with departments by mid-November. The Roadmap is an internal document, however a "What we Heard" report from the Canada Gazette consultation will be made public in fall 2018.
  • AAFC will share the list of issues and irritants submitted to the Regulatory Review process with respect to the food processing sector.
  • Health Canada provided an update on the Healthy Eating Strategy.
  • The discussion on the Healthy Eating Strategy focussed on cumulative industry impacts of concurrent changes to regulations, lack of meaningful consultation process, and concern that industry views are not well reflected, for example in the cost-benefit analysis.
  • Industry expressed that they would also like to see the evidence regarding the effectiveness on the front-of-package labelling in changing consumer behaviour and reduction of metabolic diseases.
  • Industry also expressed some specific concerns about the impacts of the Healthy Eating Strategy initiatives on the processed food sector (for example, dairy, grains).

Labour

  • Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) provided an overview which focussed on the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program and measures to make it more flexible and responsive to employers’ needs.
  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) provided an overview of its approach to immigration. IRCC also noted they are looking at developing a rural pilot program aimed at building on the Atlantic Immigration Pilot to test attraction and retention strategies necessary to increase and retain immigrants in rural communities.
  • It was noted by both government and industry that this is a longstanding issue.
  • Industry reiterated the importance of reliable access to labour, described the significant challenges to find workers, and how the inability to rely on a sustainable workforce is inhibiting growth and hindering investment across the industry.
  • Industry members remarked that enhancements to labour programs need too be addressed immediately. The Industry Co-chair, with the assistance of Roundtable member input, will draft a letter to ESDC regarding seasonal worker program and IRCC regarding approaches for pathway to permanency for foreign workers.

Exporter Intentions Study

  • While the Canadian food and beverage processing industry does well at selling to the U.S. (over 71% of exports in 2017), over the coming decades the growth in demand for processed foods and beverages will come primarily from offshore markets. In light of this, AAFC commissioned a study to:
    • Better understand Canadian food and beverage processors’ current intentions to increase exports to offshore markets
    • Identify challenges and barriers facing processors in exporting offshore
    • Address how government can support companies in increasing offshore exports
  • CAI Global Group carried out the study for AAFC and presented the results. The key takeaways of the 72 companies interviewed were that:
    • Canadian food and beverage exporters remain largely reliant on the U.S. market, and only a minority of companies (that is, 33% of interviewees) plan to increase its share of revenues from offshore exports.
    • The top five target offshore markets were, in order of priority, China/Hong Kong/Taiwan, South Korea, Europe (both EU and non-EU), Japan, and the Middle-East.
    • Aside from being focused on the U.S. market, the top barriers to export to offshore markets, ranked in order of importance, were:
      1. Pricing not competitive
      2. Logistical issues, (that is challenges in shipping products to offshore markets)
      3. Regulatory barriers (for example, labelling issues, bans on the use of certain ingredients and GMOs in certain markets)
      4. Lack of experience, market knowledge or export experience
    • The types of government assistance that exporters seek to penetrate offshore markets require were:
      1. Negotiate more FTAs
      2. Regulatory assistance (that is, support in understanding labelling and food safety regulations)
      3. Financial assistance, (that is, help with the costs of expanding to new markets)
      4. Increase the number and enhance the role of trade commissioners
      5. Improve market information, (that is, providing more in-depth intelligence on offshore markets such as the major players in industry and understanding how distribution channels work in a particular country to be in a better position to assess if opportunities exist)
  • Industry generally agreed with the conclusions of the study and much of the discussion that ensued focussed on regulatory issues/cooperation and challenges for smaller companies to export.

Innovation

  • The presentation given by the Canadian Food Innovators (CFI) provided an overview of its work, described the fragmentation of the food innovation system and the need for collaboration, and how it envisions evolving CFI to become a catalyst for a culture of innovation in the food industry in Canada.
  • The ensuing discssion on innovation focussed on the diversity of the sub-sectors within the industry and the disconnect between the needs of the industry and innovation programming parameters. For example, many industry members expressed dissatisfaction with Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) as a tool to support the food processing industry.
  • Industry members remarked that with programming such as Canadian Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Incentive Program for example, it is easier to obtain funding for product innovation and much more difficult for process innovation. The size of a company is also a factor. Larger companies have more resources and may find it more worthwhile than smaller companies.
  • It was noted that none of the 30 food and beverage processing submissions appear to have been approved under SIF and the industry would like to obtain an assessment as to why agri-food enterprises were not successful in securing funding, versus research-intensive industries such as aerospace and pharmaceutical.

Price of carbon impact on industry

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada provided an overview of the pan-Canadian approach to pricing carbon. Draft regulations are being developed and final regulations will be published in June 2019.
  • The industry strongly expressed concerns of increased costs, aggressive timelines, complexity, impact on critical ingredients/inputs to the food sector such as milling, sugar, grains and oilseeds that are intensive emitters, and generally, industry competitiveness.
  • Industry members were encouraged to engage and invited to continue to provide information and analyses on aspects of concern such as competitiveness.

USMCA update

  • AAFC provided an update on the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). USMCA countries will work on refining the text and then follow their domestic procedures to obtain the authority to sign the agreement. The agreement becomes effective three months after the last country approves it – which could be by mid-2019.
  • There are a number of positive outcomes including:
    • Preservation of market access for all HS codes where there are currently no tariffs under NAFTA; they will remain without tariffs
    • Incremental access for certain products in the form of tariff rate quotas (for example, sugar and sugar containing products similar to levels in Trans-Pacific Partnership agreements)
    • Improved rules of origin for certain products
    • Obligations for agricultural biotechnology that will increase innovation, transparency and predictability
    • A modernized committee on agriculture trade, which will provide a forum for parties to address issues and trade barriers
  • Some of the concessions agreed to by Canada in the new agreement are:
    • New market access for the U.S. in the form of tariff rate quotas for dairy, poultry and egg products
    • Elimination of current milk classes 6 and 7
    • Quality certificates for wheat from the U.S. will no longer be necessary, except for phytosanitary reasons
    • Protection of Canadian whisky and ice wine
  • Clarification was sought on the meaning of future trade negotiation regarding non-market countries, such as China. It was explained that the three countries agreed that they would notify the other two countries and provide the agreement for their review. In the case of refusal, the country could choose to leave the USMCA – but any country can choose to leave at any point with six months’ notice.
  • Industry members commented that they were surprised that the duty on imports of steel and aluminum could not be waived in the final minutes of the negotiations. Industry was advised that Global Affairs Canada is addressing the issue and hoping that discussions will be more focused given the USMCA is in place.

Meeting wrap up and adjournment

  • The Government Co-chair outlined a list of action items that evolved from the day and a half of discussions. (Annex A)
  • The Co-chairs thanked the participants for attending the meeting and were pleased with the in-depth discussions and engagement that took place on all topics.
  • The next FPIRT will be scheduled for spring 2019. (Date and location to be confirmed.)

Annex A – Action Items

Item Description
Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table (Agri-Food EST)
  • The Industry Co-chair will send a revised letter that incorporates feedback received from Roundtable participants, to Ministers Bains and MacAulay regarding support for the Agri-Food EST’s recommendations, including a proposal to have the FPIRT develop a path forward for implementing the recommendations.
  • AAFC to develop a 1-page concept piece on regulatory review synergies with Agri-Food EST recommendations.
Regulations
  • AAFC will circulate the list of regulatory issues and irritants identified with respect to the agri-food sector for the regulatory review.
  • The Industry Co-chair to prepare a letter to Health Canada, on behalf of the Roundtable, requesting 1) evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness on the front-of-package labelling in changing consumer behaviour, as well as evidence with respect to the effectiveness of the warning label scheme in helping consumers to select healthier food options and 2) whether a policy decision has been finalized.
  • Hold a follow-up FPIRT call on regulations (with guest senior officials from relevant federal departments) by end of November.
  • FPIRT’s Executive Steering Committee to explore the possibility of striking a Regulatory Working Group similar to the Grains Roundtable.
Labour
  • Monitor developments, and advise as appropriate.
  • Circulate additional information on the Provincial Nominee Program and the Atlantic Immigration Pilot.
  • The Industry Co-chair, with the assistance of Roundtable member input, to draft a letter to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) regarding seasonal worker program and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) regarding approaches for pathway to permanency for foreign workers.
Innovation
  • AAFC to follow-up with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISEDC) to obtain an assessment as to why agri-food enterprises were not successful in securing funding through the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), including the number of projects that were approved (of the 30 submissions).
Carbon Pricing
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada will provide the Roundtable with meeting material that will describe the pan-Canadian approach to pricing carbon, including the federal system as well as contact information.
  • Hold a follow-up FPIRT call on carbon pricing with ECCC by the end of November.

Annex B – Participants

Co-chairs

  • Frédéric Seppey – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Daniel Vielfaure – Bonduelle Americas

Industry

  • Ashley Kanary – Baxters Canada Inc.
  • Paul Roach – Belmont Meat Products Ltd.
  • Teresa Schoonings – Bimbo Canada
  • Brian Read – Mountain Creek Farms
  • Olivier Lavigne-Lacroix – Cargill Ltd.
  • Irving (Irv) Teper – Concord Premium Meats Ltd.
  • Lisa Dyck – Cornell Creme
  • Stephanie Cass – Ferrero Canada Ltd.
  • Mahendra Bungaroo – Fiera Foods Company
  • Martin Le Moine – Fruit d’Or
  • John Nishidate – Grand Hale Marine Products Co. Ltd.
  • Mark Pickard – InfraReady Products Ltd.
  • Marc Harcus – Ingredion Canada Corporation
  • Dominique Bohec – La Petite Bretonne Inc.
  • Rory McAlpine – Maple Leaf Foods Inc.
  • Carol Gardin – Maple Lodge Farms Ltd.
  • Graeme Jewett – Marsan Foods
  • Andrea Davis – McCain Foods Limited
  • Tim Sinclair – Nüüd Foods
  • Philippe Blondin – Whyte’s Foods Inc.

Associations

  • Derek Butler – Association of Seafood Producers
  • Paul Hetherington – Baking Association of Canada
  • James Donaldson – BC Food Processors Association
  • Luke Chapman – Beer Canada
  • Timothy Kennedy – Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance
  • Anthony van Heyningen – Canadian Beverage Association
  • Dave Shambrock – Canadian Food Innovators
  • Sandra Marsden – Canadian Sugar Institute
  • Gordon Harrison – Canadian National Millers Association
  • Chris Vervaet – Canadian Oilseed Processors Association
  • Don Jarvis – Canadian Pasta Manufacturers Association
  • Caroline Henderson – Canadian Vintners Association
  • Sylvie Cloutier – Conseil de la transformation alimentaire du Québec
  • Olivier Beaulieu-Charbonneau – Dairy Processors Association of Canada
  • Kathleen Sullivan – Food & Beverage Canada
  • Norm Beal – Food and Beverage Ontario
  • Carla Ventin – Food & Consumer Products of Canada
  • Denise Allen – Food Processors of Canada
  • Jim Smith – FOODTECH Canada
  • Robert de Valk – Further Poultry Processors Association of Canada
  • Candice Appleby – Small Scale Food Processor Association
  • Pamela Baxter – Small Scale Food Processor Association

Provincial government

  • James Street – BC Ministry of Agriculture
  • Grant Carlson – Manitoba Agriculture
  • Randy Jackiw – Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Federal government

  • Patrick Dorsey – Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
  • Myriam Francisque – Export Development Canada
  • Jules Gallant – Farm Credit Canada
  • Bob Papanikolaou – Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
  • Sylvie Verdon – Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Guests / Speakers

  • Colleen Barnes – Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  • Jean-Guy Forgeron – Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
  • Pierre Sabourin – Health Canada
  • Elisha Ram – Employment and Social Development Canada
  • Steven West – Employment and Social Development Canada
  • Natasha Kim – Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
  • Alexander Monteil – CAI Global Group
  • Dave Shambrock – Canadian Food Innovators
  • Judy Meltzer – Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Aaron Fowler – AAFC

Federal Support

  • Marco Valicenti
  • Sylvie Millette LeDuc
  • Joann Perron
  • Denyse Landry
  • Bruno Lamy
  • Warren Gould
  • Anne Kennedy
  • Glenda Taylor
  • Marie-Pierre Trudel
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