CORNER BROOK, N.L. — Marine Atlantic says commercial food trucks will have to wait in line with everybody else, even if the products they are carrying are susceptible to spoiling. Priority will not be given to commercial traffic carrying perishable food items when it comes to crossing the Cabot Strait from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland.
Marine Atlantic denied a request made by the Retail Council of Canada for loading priority of trucks carrying perishable food items.
Jim Cormier, the Atlantic Canadian director for the Retail Council of Canada, said fresh produce in Newfoundland costs five to 25 percent more than in other Canadian provinces. And while the difference in price can be because of the added cost of the ferry, the federal government could reduce the cost by prioritizing fresh food shipments, he said.
The council, which represents major grocery stores like Dominion, Sobeys, Co-op Atlantic and Costco, said that despite improved ferry scheduling and larger ferries, there are still around 40 days in a year that perishable food products are delayed or held up at North Sydney. The delays cost grocers a lot of money, and the cost is inevitably passed onto consumers, Cormier said.
According to the Halifax Chronicle-Herald newspaper, Marine Atlantic’s manager of customer relations Andrew Tobin said nearly every company can argue the importance of its product’s timely arrival to market.
However, he said commercial traffic isn’t without options. Commercial traffic can opt to pay a premium booking service, where they pay a higher fee in order to be guaranteed crossing, assuming there is no unexpected interruption in the ferry service that day.
Another option is for a truck carrying perishables to trade places with another truck from the same company who is farther ahead and is carrying a different kind of cargo.
And even without those options, the wait time to board at North Sydney in Nova Scotia is not unreasonable, he said. The trek to Port aux Basques is less than seven hours.
But Cormier argues that the council is not asking for priority on all their trucks or products, rather only on fresh produce and fresh meats; the priority would not extend to dry goods or non-perishable items.
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