Canada’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grade Standards – Beyond the Obvious.

The DRC continues to work toward the modernization of Canadian Grade Compendium: Volume 2 – Fresh Fruit or Vegetables (Compendium) in collaboration with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and industry.

The grade standards are the lexicon, or recognized language, for describing fruit and vegetable commodities and associated defects. This common lexicon is necessary for federal inspectors, private inspection firms (i.e., insurance adjustors, marine surveyors), buyers, sellers, and others to communicate in a common language.

The Compendium establishes expectations for arrival condition given that fresh fruit and vegetables are generally purchased unseen. Grade standards are the basis for establishing a breach of contract and are an essential business-to-business tool. The Canadian and US fruit and vegetable grade standards are foundational to the DRC’s Good Arrival Guidelines and Trading Standards, which serve to establish evidence in the mediation and arbitration of trade disputes.

For vendors who have contracts with their respective buyers with specific acceptance requirements, it is important to keep in mind that the specifications outlined in those agreements generally far exceed the standards contained in the Compendium. The Compendium outlines the minimum requirements and are intended to serve the entire supply chain. Grade standards also provide a measure of consumer confidence.

Growers, shippers, and packers who may not have quality-related vendor contracts rely on the Compendium as their point of reference to meet grade. For small/medium/enterprises (SMEs) and new entrants to the produce industry in particular, the grade standards and associated CFIA quality inspection manuals are their sole guides. Private contracts and the Compendium are not in competition with each other.

Grade standards are important because they serve as Canada’s minimum import requirements for the fruit and vegetable grade standards found in Compendium. In other words, products subject to grade standards coming into Canada must meet those grade standards. In the absence of Canada’s grade standards, there would be no minimum import requirements. Under certain circumstances, this could present opportunities for various types of market disruption. When considering the importance of the grade standards, this trade-related aspect is generally not top of mind and must not be overlooked.

To learn more about the current Canadian Grade Compendium: Volume 2 – Fresh Fruit or Vegetables, click here

For more information regarding the Proposed changes to the Canadian Grade Compendium: Volume 2 – Fresh Fruit or Vegetables, click here

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