The “freedom convoy” protests that have spread to the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ont., and Detroit, Mich., may have implications for Canada’s food supply, says a University of Guelph agribusiness researcher.
Every year, between $8 billion and $12 billion worth of food products cross the bridge into Canada. Combine that with Canada’s short growing season and shipping logistics, and the blockade has become “a big problem,” Dr. Simon Somogyi recently told CTV News Kitchener.
Somogyi holds the Arrell Chair in the Business of Food and researches agri-food value chain analysis and management and international market development.
The freedom convoy protests have spread to the border crossing between Manitoba and the United States, which may impact Canada’s food supply chain as well. The blockades are forcing truck drivers, many of whom work for small businesses, to detour to other border entry points.
“That increases fuel costs and the cost of truckers, so some of those costs could be passed on in higher food prices,” Somogyi said.
Although there won’t be food shortages, Somogyi said, he cautioned the shipping detours will mean food will take longer to arrive in distribution centres. Large centres such as the Ontario Food Terminal – which receives 40 to 50 per cent of the products crossing the Ambassador Bridge – will likely see the impact of the blockade first.
That’s especially concerning for “fragile food, particularly the fruits and vegetables we need this time of year, because they can get wasted,” he said.
Somogyi recommends that Canada, and Ontario, invest more in producing its own food, such as through fresh greenhouse produce, as a way to strengthen the country’s supply chain.
“More food production in Canada means we have more control on our food supply chain and therefore less reliance on imports from the U.S. or Mexico,” he said.
Somogyi is a professor in the School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management in the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics.
He is available for interviews.
Dr. Simon Somogyi