Exporting Food to Canada

With a population of over 33 million and a per capita income of CD$ 26,000. Canada is a very attractive market for German food exporters. The Canadian economy remains robust even in current times, in part of the country’s large reserves of natural resources, including oil.
Canadians spend around CD$ 147 billion on foods and beverages, of which CD$ 89 billion goes towards in-home consumption (61%) and CD$ 58 billion for out-of home consumption (39%). The average household allocates approximately CD $6.000 per year for foods, which is 9% of the disposable income.
The grocery industry is not as dominated by large retail chains as other countries in North America or Europe. Roughly 40% of the stores are considered “independents.” In total, consumers shop and eat in 23,000 supermarkets and small neighborhood stores as well as 82,000 restaurants.
Canadian retailers boast a great variety of international foods. Imported specialties play an ever growing role in the diet of the average Canadian. As it is the case in all highly developed and hyper-competitive food markets, “the right” product positioning and marketing mix (product quality, packaging, price, channel strategies, consumer-oriented communication) are the most important factors for a successful market entry and sustained sales.
Food exporters have to follow the guidelines and rules of several governmental agencies to ensure uninterrupted trade:
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency provides all federal inspection services related to food safety, economic fraud, trade-related requirements, animal and plant disease and pest programs. This consolidation of responsibilities into a single agency is designed to enhance food safety systems by integrating the delivery of inspection and quarantine services that had previously been provided by other departments.
All those involved in the production of food or in the import or export of food, live animals or plants are now able to deal with a single agency for inspection and quarantine services. To meet its mandate, CFIA administers and/or enforces many Acts.
Canada Border Services Agency
Canada Border Services Agency assists other government departments in the administration and enforcement of their legislation as it applies to imported products. The Customs Act provides the legislative authority for Customs inspectors to detain goods that may be in contravention of the Customs Act, or any other act or regulation governing the import or export of goods.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade
The Export and Import Controls Bureau of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is responsible for the issuance of permits for goods on the Import Control List and Export Control List under the authority of the Export and Import Permits Act. The following agricultural products are or will be subject to controls:
• Agricultural Products Subject to Import Controls:
• Chicken
• Turkey
• Broiler Hatching Eggs and Chicks
• Shell Eggs and Egg Products
• Cheese
• Butter
• Margarine
• Ice Cream, Yogurt
• Other Dairy Products
• Barley and Barley Products
• Wheat and Wheat Products
• Beef and Veal from Non-NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) countries
• Agricultural Products Subject to Export Control
• Peanut Butter
• Sugar Containing Products
• Sugar
Health Canada
Although Health Canada is no longer directly involved in the inspection of food, it has responsibility for setting national health and safety policy with respect to food.
Measurement Canada
Measurement Canada, an agency of Industry Canada, enforces the Weights and Measures Act, which establishes net quantity requirements for commodities sold on the basis of measure. The Weights and Measures Act applies to foods destined for commercial or industrial enterprises or institutions, products sold in bulk and clerk-served products at retail.
The legislation does not apply to commodities subject to net quantity requirements set out in other federal legislation. Consequently, it does not apply to goods packaged for direct sale to the consumer as these are covered by the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act, the food provisions of which are enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Provincial and Territorial Governments
Provincial and territorial governments have jurisdiction over public health issues, which includes food prepared, sold and manufactured within their borders. Provincial and municipal inspection programs have focussed on the food service industry (including restaurants and caterers), and the food retail industry (including grocery stores, butcher shops and bakeries). Some provinces and territories have additional requirements for certain commodities such as dairy products, margarine, bottled water, and maple syrup.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has updated its website to provide an easy-to-understand overview of the requirements needed to be fulfilled by an IMPORTER, such as:
• Registering an Import Business
• Keeping accurate and up-to-date books and records
• Ensuring that products meet all requirements of Canadian legislation (federal, provincial and municipal).
The Website gives summaries of the General Requirements for Foods, which include:
• Labeling
• All ingredients must be listed in order of predominance by weight
• All mandatory declarations must be in English and in French
• Nutrition Labeling: It should be noted that there are significant differences between the US and Canadian Nutrition Facts Panels.
Currently US Nutrition Labels are not permitted on products imported into Canada.
• Net Quantity
In Canada, net quantity declarations on consumer packaged products must be expressed in metric units of weight (grams or kilograms), volume (milliliters, liters) or count (when applicable). The manner of declaring net quantity and the method of determining the accuracy of net quantity declarations for consumer packaged products, as well as commercial, industrial or institutional products, are based on the average system. The average system is prescribed in the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations, in the case of consumer packaged products, and the Weights and Measures Act and Regulations, in the case of commercial, industrial or institutional products.
• Food Allergens
Similar to the requirements in the US, the Canadian requirements have stated which allergens are of concern and how they should be declared
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has included summaries of the Import Requirements for Food Commodities, such as:
• Alcoholic Beverages
• Dairy Products
• Eggs and Processed Eggs
• Fish and Fish Products
• Processed Fruit and Vegetable Products
• Grains
• Honey
• Low Acid Foods in Hermetically Sealed Containers (Canned Foods)
• Magarine
• Meat and Poultry
• Sports Nutrition Products
• Other categories such as Novel Foods (Biotechnology), Wildlife, Maple Products, etc.
The Website of Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s “Guide to Importing Foods Commercially” can be found here: www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/imp/guide1e.shtml
For specific questions related to your product, please contact us at info@germanfoods.org