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A note about ‘grey market’ products.

An infiltration of non-compliant – or, grey market – confectionary products poses risks to convenience stores and their customers.

Canada Convenience Store News lays out the problems involved with these products. While they’re not to be confused with black market (stolen or counterfeit) goods, they often fail to meet Canadian packaging and/or labelling requirements, including English and French wording and allergen warnings.

The Convenience Industry Council of Canada is quoted in the aforementioned article as saying:

“The challenge of grey-market products in the confectionary supply chain is becoming more prevalent… There is an increased quantity of non-compliant confectionery and beverage products manufactured in other countries that are being openly imported and then sold in Canada.”

The rise of grey market products in Canada may be attributed inflation and shrinking margins (they’re often less than 50% of the regular price), while some retailers may be looking for branded products in flavours not sold in Canada. But grey market goods can run afoul of Canadian laws that focus on distribution rights, as well as those that determine labelling and packaging requirements.

There is also the question of quality assurance; many chocolate bars made in Canada are nut-free, while the same brand imported from another country may not have been made in a peanut-free facility. And if a customer becomes ill after buying candy, the store’s owners must be able to tell authorities that the product was purchased from a trusted source.

Earlier this year the CICC met with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency about the issue, and advocated for additional support that would allow the Canada Border Services Agency to screen for grey market products. It also recommended that the Canadian government study the issue to determine the prevalence of these products and related lost tax revenues.

We’ll be watching this issue, so bookmark this blog for more grey market news.

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