By Nathan Stevens
May 25, 2012
Proponents of Canadian food for Canadians got a boost last week as the Federal Government announced that the Canada Brand has been expanded to include a domestic component. This is a positive step forward in market-oriented ways to enhance farmer’s opportunities both domestically and abroad.
The Canada Brand has been in existence for a number of years promoting the positive qualities of food produced in Canada in foreign markets. For example, Canada Brand has put considerable effort into promoting high value pork cuts in Japan. Extending the Canada Brand into the domestic market recognizes that the domestic market plays a key role in the viability of the agri-food sector.
Although the domestic portion of the Canada Brand is currently a relatively small program, with only 65 stores currently enrolled in the program, it is a start. This is the follow-up to a 2011 pilot program conducted in Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and British Columbia that sought to clearly identified Canadian products in a select group of stores. The program used shelf displays, brochures and other printed products, with the goal of increasing consumer awareness about Canadian food options on store shelves.
The results of the initiative showed that sales of Canadian food products went up significantly when clearly advertised. This key result adds new proof regarding Canadian consumer preferences towards clearly identified Canadian food. While this doesn’t mean that they will necessarily pay more for Canadian food, when given a choice, many prefer the Canadian option.
It is encouraging that our federal government is choosing to support initiatives that are domestically oriented as well as pursuing trade opportunities aggressively. Time will tell if additional Canadian grocery stores will choose to pursue this opportunity in the future. Canada’s agri-food industry should be sure to balance the importance of taking care of the domestic market while looking farther beyond our borders for new opportunities.
Nathan Stevens is the Interim Manager and Director of Policy Development for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and UCB Canada radio stations in Chatham, Belleville, Bancroft, Brockville and Kingston and in Brantford and Woodstock. It is also found on the CFFO website:www.christianfarmers.org. CFFO is supported by 4,200 family farmers across Ontario.