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Modernizing Canada’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grade Standards

DRC’s initiative to modernize Canada’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grade Standards is progressing well.

For context, the CFIA Canadian Grade Compendium Volume 2 – Fresh Fruits or Vegetables https://www.inspection.gc.ca/about-cfia/acts-and-regulations/list-of-acts-and-regulations/documents-incorporated-by-reference/canadian-grade-compendium-volume-2/eng/1519996239002/1519996303947 is the lexicon, or recognized language, for describing fruit and vegetable commodities and associated defects.

This common lexicon is necessary in order for federal inspectors, private inspection firms, buyers, sellers and others to communicate in a common language when they are separated by geographic distances. Grade standards establish minimum requirements and expectations for arrival condition, are the basis for establishing a breach of contract and are an essential business-to-business tool. Most countries have established domestic grade standards; the most in use are those in Canada, the United States, the UNECE and CODEX.

Review teams review the assigned grade standard and, reaffirming or amending previous industry recommendations for change, considering additional changes based on industry production and technology advances as well as a comparison with the corresponding US grade standards Reviews for apples, apricots, peaches, pears, plums and prunes, nectarines (new standard), carrots, greenhouse cucumbers, greenhouse tomatoes and potatoes have been completed. Proposed changes for asparagus, table grapes and onions are at the final endorsement stage and reviews for other crops are advancing. The initiative is not a competition with specs established in vendor/buyer contracts.

Next steps include a submission to CFIA under the Incorporation by Reference (IbR) provisions for their review and approval process. Upon completion of their review the CFIA notifies CODEX, WTO and other key stakeholders of the pending changes. It is expected that revised grade standards will be in effect for crop 2021.

For DRC, the Canadian and US fruit and vegetable grade standards are foundational to the Good Arrival Guidelines and Trading Standards, which serve to establish evidence in the mediation, arbitration and resolution of trade disputes.

For additional information about the project, contact Anne Fowlie (afowlie@fvdrc.com).