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New bill would bring new agri-products to Ontario Food Terminal

Government proposes allowing the sale of local foods beyond fruit and veggies

Proposed legislative changes would open the door to new agricultural products at The Ontario Food Terminal.

Last month, the Ontario government announced its Main Street Recovery Plan and intention to introduce Bill 215 – the Main Street Recovery Act, 2020. If passed, the legislation would support small businesses and modernize rules to allow them to innovate, according to the announcement.

A key part of the plan is to allow the Ontario Food Terminal—Canada’s largest wholesale produce distribution centre—to broaden what can be sold from fruit and vegetables to a larger selection of agricultural products.

Christy McMullen, vice chair of the Ontario Food Terminal and co-owner of Toronto’s Summerhill Market, told Canadian Grocer that new categories and items include dairy, fish, meat and maple syrup. There could also be holiday-related agricultural items such as Christmas wreaths and decorative corn.

“It certainly gives smaller farmers and producers in Ontario a new opportunity to sell their products,” said McMullen, adding that the changes also present a big advantage for independent grocers. “It’s hard to find out about all these products if they’re an hour or two hours away.”

On top of that, many small producers don’t have delivery capabilities. If the products are brought to a centralized location, “everybody can take a look at it,” said McMullen. “The farmers would get a lot of customers at one time and it’s also a great opportunity for [retailers] like myself to only have to go to one place to see new products or unique products, which can differentiate us from other stores.”

Bill 215 has gone through a first and second reading and is currently under consideration by the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.

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