January 25, 2015 - 4:56 AM
OTTAWA - Some people have been crying foul over the lack of ethnic chicken in Canada.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz got an earful from customers who couldn't find particular poultry, a newly released document shows.
"Concerns about the availability of ethnic chicken have largely focused on supplies of specialty birds (e.g. chicken from the Silkie and Taiwanese breeds), kosher and Hong Kong chicken," the document says.
The Canadian Press obtained the four-page document under the Access to Information Act.
It says complaints flooded Ritz's office after the May 2013 closure of Toronto-based Chai Poultry, one of Canada's two suppliers of kosher chicken.
Chai Poultry sold its quota of chicken allocation to a halal processing plant based in the southern Ontario of town of Milton.
Under the country's supply-management system — which controls the production of cheese, dairy and poultry through marketing boards — farmers are allotted a certain quota, which they can sell. Foreign competition, meanwhile, is limited through the use of tariffs.
Chai Poultry's closure left only Montreal's Marvid Poultry to supply kosher chicken — which led to some of the grousing.
"These initial complaints related to limited supplies, poor quality and high prices arose when Toronto-based (blank) ceased operations in May 2013," says the document, in which Chai Poultry's name is censored.
Last April, the Chicken Farmers of Ontario issued a request for proposals for a new kosher-chicken processing plant. But it seems none of the companies that responded fit the bill.
"None of the five applications were found to meet (blank) requirements and the process continues to find a kosher supplier," the document says.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada also got complaints in 2012 about an Ontario company's supply of Hong Kong chicken — birds that are processed with their heads and feet still attached, a style preferred by many Asian immigrants.
The company's name is blanked out in the copy of the document provided to The Canadian Press.
There haven't been any specific gripes about halal chicken. That's poultry Muslims are allowed to eat under Islamic law.
"There are ample supplies of halal chicken in the Canadian market," the document says.
In an emailed response, Agriculture Department spokesman James Watson would only say that "management of the supply of ethnic chicken remains the responsibility of provincial marketing boards."
Follow @steve_rennie on Twitter
News from © The Canadian Press, 2015