Domino’s Canadian arm commits to Canadian cheese

Domino’s Michael Curran (right, with DFC president Wally Smith) announces the Canadian chain’s commitment to Canadian cheese on Wednesday in Toronto. (CNW Group/Dairy Farmers of Canada)

In the wake of a rival’s play to import cheaper U.S. mozza, the Canadian franchisee of U.S. pizza chain Domino’s has formally gone all-in on the Canadian brand.

Domino’s Pizza of Canada on Wednesday announced what it bills as a “major partnership” with Dairy Farmers of Canada, which will see DFC’s 100 per cent Canadian milk symbol displayed on Domino’s pizza boxes, menus and website.

Without naming any competitors, Domino’s on Wednesday described itself as “the first national pizza company in Canada to have made this commitment.”

“Domino’s decision to only use cheese made from 100 per cent Canadian milk is a natural one,” said Michael Curran, president of Domino’s Pizza of Canada, in a joint release with DFC. “Domino’s is a strong believer in fresh, high-quality and local products and is a proud supporter of Canadian dairy farmers.”

Making Canadian cheese a company policy would have a “positive impact” on the Canadian dairy industry, the company said.

Starting in Winnipeg in 1983, Canada was the first market outside the U.S. for Michigan-based Domino’s, whose Canadian arm is based in Windsor.

The chain today operates over 380 Canadian restaurants across 10 provinces and two territories and buys over 4.8 million kilograms of cheese each year for use in its pizzas and other menu items in Canada.

“Pizza kits”

Canadian cheeses are the default product for pizzerias operating in Canada, since Canada’s supply management system for dairy goods is based in part on a tariff schedule making it prohibitive to import cheaper cheeses from the U.S. or elsewhere.

Until late last year, Domino’s larger rival in Canada, Toronto-based Pizza Pizza, brought U.S. mozza into Canada in the form of “pizza kits” — packs of shredded mozza and pepperoni that had been classified as “food preparations” not subject to the same tariffs as the U.S. cheese on its own.

The federal government last November shut that gate with a motion clarifying its tariff classification on “pizza topping food preparations,” requiring the U.S. mozzarella in such kits to be classified under tariff lines for fresh cheese, regardless of their packaging. [Related story]

Research by the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa estimated the value of northbound “pizza kit” traffic, up until last November’s government ruling, at up to US$30 million per year. [Related story]

Canada’s imports in U.S. products classified under the same tariff category as pizza kits are expected to drop this year to the 5,000-ton range from 10,179 tons last year, the embassy said in a report.

“We are proud that Domino’s has made this commitment to our Canadian dairy farmers,” DFC president Wally Smith said in DFC and Domino’s joint release Wednesday.

DFC and its provincial counterparts were vocal critics of the “pizza kit” exception and had pressed the federal government to step in and shore up the tariff wall. — Network


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