Canadian Pizza Magazine

Features Business and Operations Health & Safety
From the Editor’s Desk: December 2007

Food Safety


February 26, 2008
By Cam Wood

Topics

A couple weeks from now, a vast
number of Canadians will be vowing off “junk food,” crafting grandiose
plans to buff up and watch their waist line shrink like the Toronto
Maple Leaf defense.

Food Safety

A couple weeks from now, a vast number of Canadians will be vowing off “junk food,” crafting grandiose plans to buff up and watch their waist line shrink like the Toronto Maple Leaf defense.

Of course, the experienced pizzaiolos know this is an annual trend and usually within a few weeks the phone starts ringing again. But while every new year brings these weak resolutions, the coming year will bring a few significant hurdles for the foodservice industry.

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While we enjoy a false honeymoon over a high dollar, consumer watch groups expect Canadians to increase their spending over the Christmas season. However, this will also lead to exceptionally tight wallets in the wake of January’s credit card bills. Energy and other household costs are not that prominent right now – waiting in the shadows for a crueler reality to come.

Consumers have not only become more sophisticated in their tastes, but also more cautious and demanding.
This adventurous palate has seen a dramatic rise in food imports. And in the hunt for healthy, unique and new tastes, consumers took point of origin for granted.

We can’t say that sense of safety came to an abrupt ending with recent tainted food revelations and numerous product recalls, but it did bring with it a new level of awareness.

Food safety concerns have never been so high on consumers’ lists. And this is an area where the fresh pizza market can find an advantage. Transparency isn’t as easy for those companies that manufacture frozen pizzas en masse. Sure labelling will identify what goes into the product, but so far, laws do not require manufacturers to identify from where those ingredients originate.

And this concern isn’t just focused on recent incidents involving Chinese imports. Canadian shoppers are growing into a more regionalized sense of consumerism, particularly when it comes to food. Grocery stores have been on the crest of this trend for a number of years – particularly in the produce section. Identifying the country of origin has enabled consumers to speak with their dollars when supporting locally grown food over international imports.

The education opportunities are huge, as are the marketing advantages – provided you understand your own products’ origins. Yes, foreign ingredients can be cheap (less expensive) … but local ingredients can add value to your menu in both an economic and perceptual sense.

Some pizzaiolos have chosen to look to other markets to round out their “social agenda.” While food safety is a popular subject, there are some consumers who have never been able to enjoy the pies we make. People who suffer from gluten allergies, or sensitivities, have spent the majority of their lives avoiding wheat–based products.
This past fall, Canadian Pizza Magazine went back to school to learn more about serving unique markets like those who need gluten–free products. On the surface some of you may say this is a very small niche of consumers, so why bother?

The Canadian Celiac Association estimates that one in 250 Canadians suffer from some element of celiac–related issues. From a consumer market perspective, in a country of 33 million, that would mean 132,000 potential customers.

Think we’re being silly? In January we will begin the New Year with a look at those ideas, along with a story on gluten–free pizza and about our new friend from Nashville, Peter Spellman, who turned his neighbourhood pizzeria into a national force by going online and shipping gluten–free dough across the United States.


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