A move by the federal government to deregulate the size of packaged food will devastate the fruit and vegetable processing industry in Essex County, jeopardize 5,000 jobs and threaten the survival of small farms, politicians and industry officials are warning. Industry officials fear the Canadian market would be inundated with U.S.-produced food, forcing Canadian manufacturers to invest millions to retool factories to produce U.S.-size packages. Since most of the factories are owned by American parent companies, few will make the investment since U.S. factories have capacity to supply the Canadian market with U.S.-made food, experts say.
“For a company like Heinz or Campbell’s, if tomorrow morning we change packaging laws, I wouldn’t be surprised if they shut the Canadian plants down,” said Sylvain Charlebois, a University of Guelph professor in the College of Management and Economics. “Why would you keep them if you can produce the same product in the U.S. for half the price?”