Feds rule out A&P program

Only days after beginning the roll-out of its new private label brand Canada's Choice, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Company of Canada has seen the program blow up in its face.Earlier this month, the Department of Agriculture ordered a&p to withdraw...

Only days after beginning the roll-out of its new private label brand Canada’s Choice, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Company of Canada has seen the program blow up in its face.

Earlier this month, the Department of Agriculture ordered a&p to withdraw the Canada’s Choice brand name because it too closely resembles the grade name Canada Choice.

As part of an ambitious private label program announced in May, a&p, which operates 260 food stores in Ontario under the a&p, Dominion Stores, Miracle Food Mart and Ultra-Mart banners, intended to replace several existing house labels sold in its chains with the Canada’s Choice label.

For the past several decades, the Department of Agriculture has used the name Canada Choice to rate the quality of processed fruits and vegetables sold throughout the country.

The department uses three grade names for fruits and vegetables: Fancy Choice, denoting top quality; Canada Choice, denoting regular quality; and Standard, denoting a quality that is acceptable but below regular quality.

According to the Canada Agriculture Products Act, all grade names used by the Agriculture Department are national trademarks.

The act also states that products cannot be given the same name, or a name resembling, a trademark grade name.

Jim Standish, associate director of the department’s dairy, fruit and vegetable division, explains that while Canada’s Choice is not identical to Canada Choice, he feels it is close enough that consumers would be confused.

The Department of Agriculture’s demand that a&p kill off the Canada’s Choice brand name is supported by the Department of Consumer & Corporate Affairs, which finds the name contravenes the Food and Drugs Act.

According to Section 5 (1) of the act, ‘No person shall label, package, treat, process, sell or advertise any food in a manner that is false, misleading, or deceptive, or is likely to create an erroneous impression regarding its character, value, quantity, composition, merit or safety.

Ian Campbell, head of the Department of Consumer & Corporate Affairs’ food program section, consumer products branch, says ‘our opinion is Canada’s Choice is just too close to the grade name. It is our opinion that the term should not be used.’

Gord McCullough, a&p’s director of corporate brands, confirms a&p has pulled Canada’s Choice off the shelf, but declines to discuss the matter further.