In October 2013, Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, and EU Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, reached a political agreement on the key elements of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The main agreements that related to cheese were an increase in EU cheese importing into Canada and changes to Geographical Indications. With the US now working with the EU on its own Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), ACS asked some of our Canadian members to share how they believe their businesses and the Canadian cheese industry as a whole will be affected by CETA:
- “The CETA trade deal with EU will have a negative effect on the domestic production of cheese in Canada. All future growth in the domestic specialty cheese market will go to imported cheese from the EU. Under the trade deal, Canadian importers who import from other countries like the US will lose 5% of their license as well. The whole world has just become smaller as a result of CETA. What’s on the horizon? The PAN Pacific trade deal, another negative blow to the dairy industry in Canada.” – Albert Borgo, Quality Cheese Inc.
- “The big winners of CETA will be Canadian consumers, as they will have better access to EU specialty cheeses that in some cases are still difficult to find here. While some are concerned that Canadian artisan producers will be hurt, my own read is that Canadian consumers are very interested in local products and will continue to patronize locally produced cheeses. I believe that additional EU specialty cheeses that come to the market as a result of CETA will expand the market for specialty cheeses in Canada.” – Andy Shay, CCP, Sobey’s
- “It’s a pretty messed up system when independent retailers are looked to by the public for expertise and education, but have no purchasing power and no chance to acquire import quota, even when it is doubled with this agreement. The big importer just got bigger. Canada missed out on an opportunity to create a very diverse and interesting cheese culture.” – Nancy Peppler, Nancy’s Cheese
- “CETA promises to provide us with cheaper European cheese, which is great for our customers. We pay a great deal more for our cheese in Canada than Europe, so good quality cheese tends to be a luxury item instead of an everyday food choice. We also hope this will provide a greater selection of cheese. It may be a little more uncertain for our Canadian cheesemakers, as we already pay a premium for Canadian artisan cheese. CETA may further widen that gap. On the other hand, we have strong support for many of our cheesemakers and great enthusiasm for local suppliers Our store will continue to support Canadian cheesemakers.” – Cecilia Smith, The Passionate Cook’s Essentials
- “I am a believer of free trade and competition, provided it is done fairly and is equally beneficial to all parties involved. I am a Canadian, small, independent cheesemonger operating a family business the last 20 years… There is something fundamentally wrong with how we treat cheese and dairy products in Canada. By giving the quotas to the same people, the result will be creating bigger monopolies and higher prices for the consumer. If you think the Canadian farmer is protected, you are mistaken… It pains me that I see so many amazing artisanal cheeses that we cannot bring to our customers… The end result is that cheese lovers, consumers, artisan producers, farmers, and retailers suffer.” – Odysseas Gounalakis, CCP, Scheffler’s Deli & Cheese
As is currently under discussion with TTIP, Geographical Indications (GIs) and naming protocols were a part of CETA. In Canada, these changes included:
- Agreed to varying ways of addressing EU requests regarding 179 terms covering foods and beer
- Canada maintains ability to use components of multi-part terms, for example:
- “Brie de Meaux” will be protected, but the term “brie” can be used on its own
- “Gouda Holland” will be protected, but the term “Gouda” can be used on its own
- “Edam Holland” will be protected, but the term “Edam” can be used on its own
- Limited Geographical Indications rights provided to EU on: Asiago, feta, fontina, Gorgonzola and Munster
- Won’t affect ability of current users of these names in Canada to continue use
- Future users will be able to use the names only when accompanied by expressions such as “kind”, “type,” “style,” “imitation,” or the like.