Canada’s Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corp., which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, has changed over the years to meet the needs of the industry it serves.
“If I think about the last 10 years, we’ve completely rewritten our bylaws because we’ve had certain challenges over time,” said Stephen Whitney, president and chief executive officer.
Acting on requests from a few large Canadian retailers, the organization added transportation disputes to its list of services in 2005. Whitney said the transportation industry is a natural fit because most of the trade is basically an f.o.b.-type market, although trucking companies are a small segment of the group’s membership.
“What hasn’t happened is we haven’t seen a lot of the transportation industry run to our door for membership,” Whitney said.
The DRC also has pushed the industry to build a new model for destination inspections.
“If the DRC had not come to be, I’m not sure what the landscape would be,” Whitney said. “They’re (licenses, registration and desintation inspections) not government priorities because they don’t measure up to food safety issues.”
Matt McInerney, executive vice president of Western Growers, Irvine, Calif., and volunteer chairman of the DRC since its inception, said the group’s involvement in issues like changing inspection protocols makes it the go-to association in Canada.
“You need something to go back to your growers with if product doesn’t look right. So we worked pretty diligently to get a new agreement for destination inspections. That is beginning to happen. It’s taken time, damn near 10 years,” Whitney said.
Without destination inspections, buyers eliminate a piece of evidence that can help them out in a dispute. Because 61% of the disputes handled by the DRC relate to product condition, destination inspections are extremely important, Whitney said.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Canadian counterpart, handles those inspections. Mexico is without a government-sponsored inspection service.