Tim Hortons and Coca Cola received Federal licence allowing for sole source U.S. milk

Press Release: Council of Canadians, Cobourg and Peterborough, Ontario - Sept 16, 2019

An investigation carried out over the summer by the Northumberland Chapter of the Council of Canadians (CofC) backed by the CofC’s Peterborough-Kawarthas Chapter, has uncovered a corporate end-run around Canada’s Supply Management system for dairy. The epicentre of this national-level scheme is the city of Peterborough along with the ridings of Peterborough-Kawartha and Northumberland-Peterborough South.

This corporate maneuver involves Tim Hortons (TH is Brazilian owned) as well as Coca Cola and fairlife (both U.S. owned), which in 2018 surprisingly received a federal distribution licence allowing for sole-sourced U.S. milk to be used in Tim Hortons’ bottled ice coffee products sold in corner stores, supermarkets and gas bars across Canada [not to be confused with the use of 100% Canadian milk in TH’s coffee shops].

This corporate end-run is currently preventing Canadian dairy farmers from having greater market access for their milk. A Coca Cola/fairlife milk processing plant under construction in Peterborough could provide that access for local farmers once it is in operation in 2020, but there have been no firm commitments from these companies. 

The average Canadian consumer might assume that milk in TH bottled ice coffees currently distributed by Coca Cola/fairlife would have the same level of purity as milk under Canada’s regulated dairy system, but they would be mistaken. Via TH’s bottled ice coffees Canadians are (unknowingly?) consuming a milk product from the U.S. where the laws governing the use of antibiotics and growth hormones on cows are lax.

The Canadian government made major concessions on dairy in the NAFTA 2:0 negotiations, and this end-run represents an early beach-head example presaging more difficult times ahead for Canada’s farmers should the ‘new’ NAFTA be ratified.

A dissatisfied U.S. Congress has now opened up NAFTA 2:0 for further negotiation and Canada should do the same to reverse the damaging concessions made on dairy.

In a detailed letter two local Chapters of the Council of Canadians ask both MPs to:

>Get a guarantee from the three corporations to sole-source milk for the Peterborough plant from local dairy farmers;

>Requisition a copy of the 2018 federal distribution licence, and make it public;

>Show leadership in re-opening NAFTA 2:0 and ‘walking-back’ dairy concessions.


Note: For a version of the detailed letter delivered to Forthe MPs - [email protected]