Thursday, October 30, 2014

Restaurants miffed by Farm Products Commission snub

Garth Whyte, president and chief executive officer of Restaurants Canada, is miffed by the lack of response from the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission.

The commission is reviewing chicken pricing and accepting submissions, but has so far not answered a letter Whyte wrote the commission early this month requesting further information.

Whyte also says the commission won't allow Restaurants Canada to participate in the pricing review, not even as an observer, let alone an intervenor.

Nothing commission chairman Gerry Kamenz does surprises me. I can't think of a more incompetent government appointee in Ontario.

Members of Restaurants Canada are second only to supermarkets as customers for Ontario-grown chicken.

Whyte has decided to go public, posting an open letter on the association’s website.
Here’s what he wrote to the commission:

“Canada’s restaurant industry purchases approximately $2.2 billion a year in Canadian chicken.  It is a popular menu item at many of our members’ restaurants, and Restaurants Canada has long said it would like to be a full partner in promoting the growth and further development of the chicken industry. 

“Your commission is currently examining the cost of production (COP) formula used in setting the price of Ontario chicken. This process is important because the price set for chicken in Ontario determines the price charged for chicken across the whole country.  

“As you are aware, the commission requested input on the proposed amendments to determine the "minimum live prices for chickens that Ontario producers are paid.” On Oct. 8, we sent you a letter requesting: 

  • a copy of all the amendments proposed, along with proposed prices and costs; and
  • a full description of the cost of production formula in place since 2002, including any modifications either in formula or assigned costs/prices.
“Restaurants Canada has not received any response.  We are frustrated because we want to contribute to the important review work taking place and respond to the amendments you are considering.

“The restaurant industry is Canada’s second-largest purchaser of chicken and has been denied intervener – even observer – status during this review.  

“Our association is unable to respond to the commission’s invitation to provide commentary on the proposed amendments by the deadline of Nov. 6, because these amendments have not been made known. “For that matter, details of the COP used since 2002 have also not been shared publicly.

“As a result, outside interveners like ourselves don’t know if amendments proposed by the current review significantly advance the consumer, our industry and – ultimately – the public interest.”

Earlier this year the commission ordered the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board to roll back prices to more accurately reflect current feed-conversion rates.