30,000 tonnes of European cheese could be coming to Canada
After years of negotiation, Canada appears to be just days away from signing a new trade deal with the European Union that is likely to bring a $12-million boost to Canada’s income and increase trade by 20 per cent. But let’s face it, the most important question here is: how awesome is the cheese we’re going to get?
Under Canada’s protectionist system—often likened by critics to a government-sanctioned dairy cartel—96 per cent of the cheese available in this country is made here, too. The Conservative government has tentatively agreed to double the amount of European cheese allowed to bypass those protections, giving the EU 32 per cent of the fine cheese market. For foodies, this means better access to French Roquefort, Milanese Gorgonzola and Parmigiano-Reggiano that’s actually been produced in Parma, Reggio Emilia or one of the few other Italian provinces that can claim a historical stake in the name.
On the flip side, though, the trade agreement could spell trouble down the road for homegrown cheese makers. If the EU’s trade deal with South Korea is an indication, Canadian dairy producers could be forced to comply with strict European rules prohibiting the use of regional names to describe products made outside those specific areas. In other words, Ontario-made Parmesan would have to stop calling itself Parmesan. Somehow, Canadian-Style Spaghetti Topper doesn’t have the same ring to it.