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Importing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables into Canada


With the Safe Food for Canadians Act coming into effect on January 15, 2019, it would be pertinent to take a look at how this will affect importers of fresh fruits and vegetables into Canada.

Canada is recognized as having one of the stronger food safety systems in the world. The Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) aims to strengthen the existing food system by focusing on prevention and allowing for faster removal of unsafe food from the marketplace. SFCA became law in Canada in November of 2012 in response to the increasing risk and challenges due to the rising volume and complexity of food production. The aim is to reduce administrative burden on businesses by replacing 14 sets of regulations with 1.

 Aside from obtaining an importer number, currently fresh fruit and vegetable importers have to possess either a CFIA Produce License, or a DRC Membership. The cost for a CFIA Produce License is $1075.00 plus tax for the year. For the DRC Membership, the annual cost is $1097.00 plus tax. CFIA currently recommends to obtain a DRC Membership as they are phasing out the CFIA Produce License in the coming months. You can find the DRC Membership info here. There is an exemption to both, however. If you market fresh fruits and vegetables directly to consumers with a total invoice value of less than $230,000 per calendar year, you are exempt from the licensing requirements.

The new regulations that will come into force are known as the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations or SFCR. Under SFCR, food businesses will be required to obtain a license if they conduct any of the following activities;

  • Import food
  • Manufacture, process, treat, preserve, grade, package, or label food to be exported or sent across provincial or territorial borders
  • Export food that requires an export certificate – even if not preparing the food
  • Slaughter food animals from which meat products are derived for export or to be sent across provincial or territorial borders
  • Store and handle a meat product in its imported condition for inspection by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

Licensing will help CFIA better identify food safety risks in order to target inspections, better communicate important food safety information to businesses, and take enforcement actions when regulatory requirements are not met. These enforcement actions can range from requiring corrective measures to suspending or cancelling licenses.

It is clear that moving forward, CFIA will be taking a more active role in preventing and assessing threats to food safety at all points of the supply chain. Orbit Brokers will be monitoring these changes to ensure a smooth transition to the new regulations. Please contact Orbit Brokers with any questions or concerns.

To find out more, give us a call at (905) 673-8798