Canadian pizza makers angry over cheese price breaks given frozen pizza manufacturers took their battle to an Ontario court on Jan. 29.
According to a report in the Toronto Star, the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) wants the Ontario Divisional Court to reverse a decision by the Canadian Dairy Commission that provides pizza manufacturers a 32 percent discount on mozzarella.
CRFA, which represents some 50,000 food outlets across the country, has battled the policy since uncovering the discrepancy five years ago.
"Consumers are clearly opting for the lower-priced (frozen) option," said Stephanie Jones, vice-president of food supply for CRFA. Lowering cheese prices would allow pizza makers to "compete on a level playing field with grocery-store competitors," she added.
According to a representative of the dairy commission, the lower price permit was intended to help pizza manufacturers to compete directly with imported goods, not slight ready-to-eat pizza makers.
"Frozen pizza makers are granted these special permits because they compete with imports of frozen pizza from the U.S.," said Susan Bertrand, a policy analyst for the Canadian Dairy Commission from Ottawa.
Regardless, say pizzeria operators, prices need to be the same across the board.
"We aren't even able to compete effectively because our pricing structure is significantly higher (than grocery stores and frozen pizza), about 20 to 25 per cent," said John Beauparlant, president of Domino's Pizza Canada Ltd., from Calgary. "We want to ensure there's fair pricing."
The court did not say when a ruling on the issue could be expected.