Here’s the thing. I love dairy products. I love milk. I love cheese. I love yogurt. I love ice cream. I loved them when I lived stateside. I loved them when I moved north. What I do not love are the exorbitant price tags attached to the Canadian products.
I fear these exorbitant price tags are beginning to taint my love of all things dairy.
It’s no secret that the price of industrial milk in Canada—milk used to make cheese, yogurt, butter and ice cream—has been increasing exponentially these past 15 years and that Canadian dairy prices are among the highest in the world today.
Why you ask? Because dairy prices aren’t set by the logic of supply and demand (lots of milk = cheap; little milk = expensive); they are set by the Canadian Dairy Commission: a three-person tribunal consisting of one dairy producer, one processor and the former president of Dairy Farmers of Canada.
Since 1994, the cost of production for dairy products has fallen by 3.5 percent, while product pricing has increased. Today’s Canadian industrial milk price sits at $71.64 per 100 litres of milk. The cost to produce that same amount of milk? $59.56. Keep in mind that 59.56 number is based on an industry calculation that already includes a fair return on investment.
Talk about a mark-up.
And, it’s not as though Canadian consumers have other options from which to choose. With a vested interest in protecting its domestic market, Canada has sanctioned import tariffs of up to 300 percent to keep most foreign dairy products out of the country. This is excellent news for the Canadian dairy producer. Not such excellent news for the Canadian consumer.
Like ice cream? Me, too. But, with the rising cost of milk, manufacturers are being forced to lower its percentage in their products and re-brand them as “frozen dessert.” There’s not enough milk in their ice creams to actually label them ice cream. Like fresh pizza? While the dairy industry provides frozen pizza makers with deeply discounted cheeses to help them compete with U.S. imports, restaurateurs receive no such discount. Which means the real pie makers can’t compete with the frozen pie makers. And that many restaurateurs are beginning to cut a number of items that contain dairy products from their menus.
This is a real travesty for ice cream and pizza lovers. And for dairy lovers in general. Dairy lovers like me.
Check out the editorial by Dairy Planet for an interesting take on Canada’s dairy industry.
Winner of U.S. vs. Canada, Round 3: Team U.S.A. all the way!
Information provided by the Canadian Dairy Commission, Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association and Dairy Planet.