Food industry welcomes the Harper Government's Food Processing Action Plan

FCPC says updating food laws will bolster innovation, growth

TORONTO, Jan. 24 /CNW/ - Canada's largest food industry association says the government's plan to help the food processing sector to grow and be more competitive is a comprehensive, well-considered document that will spur the industry's growth and the country's continued economic renewal.  The details of Growing the Canadian Food Processing Sector - An Industry/Food Processing Action Plan were unveiled today in Vancouver by the Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture).

"We commend the government for taking leadership to ensure a future for one of the country's most important sectors, and for having the vision to engage food industry sector representatives in developing the plan," says Derek Nighbor, senior vice president, Public and Regulatory Affairs, Food & Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC). "Most Canadians would be surprised to know that the food industry is now the largest employer in manufacturing in the country.  That being said, we could be bigger and better.  It is our hope that the launch of today's Action Plan will put the challenges facing our sector on the front burner of public policy priorities in Ottawa."

Nighbor says the industry welcomes in particular the priority to modernize Canada's regulatory environment to enable and encourage innovation.  "We have been urging the government to develop a modern, world-class, food regulatory system. This would ensure that Canadians have access to healthy product choices that are available in many other countries, and at the same time, foster innovation, and boost economic growth."

He says that bringing the system at par with other leading developed nations would support the government's objectives for the health of Canadians and the economy.  Manufacturers would be able to bring to market many "functional" foods (foods that have health benefits) that are currently not allowed in Canada because the food and drug regulations are outdated and not set up to process this type of innovation.  New growth opportunities domestically and abroad would be created, not only for manufacturers, but also the agriculture industry, retailers, and other sectors that support manufacturing.

Of the Canadian manufacturing sector, food is consistently the largest component, employing just under 300,000 Canadians from coast to coast. The industry is the largest purchaser (43 per cent) of agriculture output and a significant exporter, with 70 per cent of the shipments going to the US.

Food & Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC) is the country's largest food industry association and represents Canadian-operated food, beverage and consumer product companies that make and market national and retailer brands sold through retail and foodservice outlets.  FCPC provides leadership to member companies and fosters an environment where they can compete, innovate and sustain growth while always promoting ethical and responsible practices.  For more information visit www.fcpc.ca.

SOURCE Food and Consumer Products of Canada

For further information:

Nancy Bagworth VP Communication, 416-510-8088  or 416-578-0709 cell

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