Canadian food products. Photo by Jason DeRusha.
Did you know we have a Canadian Consulate in Minneapolis? There are 13 of them in the U.S., and let’s be honest: Minnesota is so far north, we’re practically Canada anyway.
Canada is Minnesota’s number one customer for exports—we send $4.4 billion worth of goods there. But we’re also a huge importer, nearly $9 billion, about 50 percent is oil. So why does the food editor at Minnesota Monthly care about this?
The consulate is trying to get more Canadian food into the hands of Minnesotans. They held a mini-trade show in June for the first time in Minnesota called “Taste of Canada.” They had 55 companies with more than 100 Canadian food suppliers. And no, it wasn’t just 50 varieties of maple syrup. (I mean there was maple syrup, of course.)
“From snacks to frozen entrees to granola bars to desserts, I don’t think a lot of people realize the amount of products that come from Canada,” says Christina Connelly, the trade commissioner at the local consulate.
But they’ve got a line of Filipino sauces and marinades called Pulo—the first line of Philippines sauces targeted to North Americans. There were lots of clean energy bars including a cool line called Gorp that has a cocoa, hemp, almond bar that was delicious.
Often prices are good because of proximity and the trust that Canada has, according to the consulate.
“Canada has a strong image here in Minnesota, we are the neighbors to the north,” says Connelly.
She says the buyers were interested in the coconut butters, sugar-free chocolate, and baked chips called Oh! Naturals. “We had Schwan Food, Hy-Vee, General Mills, lots of buyers with different needs,” she says.
I wonder, with our obsession to buy local, if marketing food in stores as a “Product of Canada” would have any meaning for Minnesotans. I’d rather buy a food product from Canada than something from South America or from Europe: it feels local because of the lower transportation impact.
“Don’t forget about Canada as a supplier of choice, it’s not just maple syrup!” laughs Connelly.