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Canadian Food Industry Players Form ‘Collaborative Alliance’

Just when we were all getting really sick of watching how partisan stupidity has ruined the American system of government, and noting with disdain that even the Canadian system doesn’t get anything done anymore due to political wrangling and reelection paranoia, Canadian food chain players have united to ‘cooperate’…

Supermarket Aisle - © thestar.comCanadian Food Industry players large and small are getting together
to develop a uniform Code of Practice. We hope it works…

No, it’s apparently not too late for at least some elements in our world to get together and actually cooperate on something, rather than letting selfish, short-sighted partisanism take over. Canadian food chain players large and small have announced they’re uniting to form the Canadian Food Industry Collaborative Alliance, ‘and develop a framework that proposes a transparent, consultative and collaborative process for food industry leaders to develop a Canadian Food Industry Code of Practice’. But, as chummy and altruistic as it all sounds, there are still some self-serving angles to the deal.

In a recent news release, the Alliance said it was acting in response to the call last year from the government: “In November 2020, Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) agriculture and food ministers announced the creation of an FPT Working Group to identify potential measures to safeguard balance in the food system’s commercial relationships, while also ensuring Canadians’ continued access to a safe, reliable food supply at affordable prices.”

Industry leaders obviously wanted to get in on the ground floor, so to speak, and form an alliance and working group before the government formed one and took control out of the industry’s hands. If anyone is going to tell them what to do and how to do it, it’s going to be them.

Aims and objectives

The Alliance asserts: “To promote and support good faith dealings and responsible commercial conduct along the food supply chain, the following principles should be reflected in a code of practice:

• Ensuring transparency and contractual certainty in all commercial transactions.
• Ensuring best practice reciprocity throughout the supply chain.
• Promoting fair and ethical dealings in contract negotiations, particularly where there is a significant disparity in negotiating power between the parties.
• Ensuring equitable distribution of food supply.
• Providing supports for small and mid-sized parties to commercial transactions.
• Providing an effective, fair and applicable dispute resolution process.”

My take

I can see why the Industry players would want to keep government out of the loop, at least as much as possible. On the other hand, I can also understand why the Industry Players – being in the game to make money and make it the most convenient way they can, for them – would want to vest control of any code of practice/ethics/conduct or whatever you want to call it in their own hands.

I like the idea that the Alliance aims to, “Promote fair and ethical dealings in contract negotiations.” I assume that means it will oversee and wrist-slap where necessary giant players like national supermarket chains when they demand kick-backs from manufacturers in return for stocking their products on the shelves, and so on. This is a bad practice, to say the least, that only serves to reduce consumer choice and boost prices. As my choice of words above indicates, I don’t really expect the players to police themselves on this issue any more than the average person expects the other self-regulating institutions to be impartial.

I hope this new Alliance and the Code of Practice they come up with will ultimately benefit consumers, making the food supply more secure, more equitable and more affordable to all. But I’ll only believe it when I see it.

~ Maggie J.

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