(May 21, 4:30 p.m.) CALGARY, Alberta — Doing business in Canada would be a lot easier if there weren’t so many desks in the way — 92 desks, to be exact.

The “desks,” as characterized by Ian MacKenzie, executive vice president of the Ontario Produce Marketing Association, refer to the number of government bureaus, offices and other stopping points that each new regulation must pass through.

The problem is so bad that most new regulations take as long as two years to pass through the system, MacKenzie said May 16 during the Canadian Produce Marketing Association session, “Doing Business in Canada — What’s different?”

“The regulatory amendment system is now officially broken. The produce industry changes rapidly and the regulatory system is not keeping up,” he said.

As one solution regarding grade standards, MacKenzie suggested it might make sense to create a series of generic standards and give inspectors more ability to interpret them instead of creating elaborate standards for every single produce item.

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In Canada, a few chains dominate the scene, but club stores and supercenters are gaining momentum, said moderator Adrian Abbott, marketing services manager for BC Tree Fruits Ltd., Kelowna, British Columbia.

Among the large chains, Sobey’s leads the way at 1,709 locations, with Metro running close behind at 1,608 and Loblaw’s at 1,577, Abbott said.

The Canadian retail food market was worth $67 billion in 2006, up 20% from 2002, he said.

Because of the rising value of the Canadian dollar and the influx of Wal-Mart Supercenters, food remains relatively inexpensive for Canadians.

“Canadians pay some of the lowest food prices in the world,” Abbott noted.