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Visit to Toronto

18th March 2012 by , | No Comments

I was in Toronto for a day last week.

I started out with a breakfast presentation to the Toronto Chapter of KEA (Kiwi Expats Abroad).  While I gave the group an overall outline of the work of the High Commission, my main focus was the collaborative effort of my office with our Consulate based in Vancouver with regard to our shared economic focus into Canada. The Vancouver team is almost 100 per cent trade focussed and are very much the lead team for New Zealand companies entering the Canadian market. The presentation was actually a double act with Melissa Trochon, our Trade Commissioner to Canada, based in Vancouver and who heads up the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) team. Our teams work closely on key projects, particularly when there is an Ontario or Federal government focus.

A significant area of collaboration is in the Security and First Responder areas;  that is the military and organisations like police and fire fighters. Canada is both a market and a source of technical and business collaboration as NZTE assists New Zealand companies looking to get into or expand their operations in Nth America.

I also spent part of the morning at the annual Canadian Restaurant and Food Association (CRFA) Industry Expo, a massive event out at the Exhibition Place in Toronto. As well as walking the floor, I spent much of my time with CRFA President, his Board Chair Donna Dooher and some of the executive. With 30,000 members across Canada representing $60 billion in total business in the food industry, CRFA and New Zealand, as a producer of fine primary produce, have a lot to talk about. And as President Garth Whyte always tells me, before shoppers start putting new products in their supermarket trolley they often like to try it out at a restaurant first.

CRFA have also been one of the more outspoken industry groups when it comes to the on-going debate around the future of supply management, and particularly the protection afforded to the Canadian dairy industry. Most recently this has entailed a campaign entitled “Free your Milk”, and subsequent response to the Campaign by the Dairy Farmers of Canada entitled “Your Milk”.

The CRFA’s basic position is that its membership, mainly small businesses, have to make their way in the world of business based on the quality and value of their product to the consumer. They would like to be able to source their ingredients in an open market to enable them to deliver to customers on quality and value.

Garth Whyte with Andrew Needs


Garth Whyte, Andrew Needs, Donna Dooher and Justin Taylor

Garth Whyte, Andrew Needs, Donna Dooher and Justin Taylor

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