Festive Favourites: Popular Imports to Canada During the 2018 Holiday Season |

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Festive Favourites: Popular Imports to Canada During the 2018 Holiday Season

There’s no feeling quite like the holiday rush.

For some, it’s all about the exhilaration of sprinting from shopping mall to shopping mall, trying to buy up the season’s quickest disappearing items for your loved ones.

For others, it’s the stress of sprinting from shopping mall to shopping mall, trying to buy up the season’s quickest disappearing items for your loved ones. Not to mention cooking meals, entertaining dozens of family members, and decorating every corner of your home until you’ve achieved appropriate levels of festiveness.

And, of course, for those of you in importing, Christmastime means trying to get your items cleared — ideally, before December 25 — in the midst of massive backups at the border. (A few quick tips for next year: don’t wrap your gifts, keep your receipts, and know the value of anything you get!)

Since people are trying to take a load off this holiday season, we’ve decided have a little fun with our the subject matter. Let’s take a look at some popular imports making news this time of year…

Christmas Trees

In order to keep up with the demand of the Canadian public, Christmas tree growers on this side of the 49th parallel have typically had to buy wholesale from the U.S. to pad their own stock. In 2016, for example, $5.1 million worth of fresh-cut trees made their way across our border.

Last year, however, was the start of a shortage for American suppliers — an outcome a decade in the making and a trend expected to continue in the coming years. Due to the 2007 recession, which reduced the number of trees harvested, available imports from the States have suddenly gone down.

This has been both a blessing and a curse for Canadian growers — in B.C., which relies heavily upon U.S. imports, it represents a struggle to find enough trees to meet demand, while in the Prairies and Eastern Canada, it has meant more local sales and exports of their own stock.

Yet, in spite of the mostly good news for Canada’s 1,872 farms nationwide, here’s the really confusing stat: $61 million worth of fake Christmas trees have been imported to Canada, mostly from the China and the U.S., leading up to this year.

Whether you go real or fake, only time will tell what tree imports figures will look like in 2018…

Mandarin Oranges

Though there’s usually enough candy canes and gingerbread cookies to go around at Christmastime, the real treat in people’s homes this time of year is mandarin oranges.

What was once a delightful surprise in our stockings as children, ubiquitous with the holiday season, has skyrocketed in popularity over time — to the point where, despite increased sales around Christmas, these sweeter, easier-to-peel mini-oranges are now available year round.

A recent story from the CBC noted that demand for imports of clementines, tangerines and other variants from the mandarin family have eclipsed those of other fruits. Worldwide production is keeping up with the demand, too — China, the world’s largest producer by far, harvest nearly 20 million tonnes of mandarins in 2017, while at least nine other countries on five different continents are making their products available for importation.


…Wait. Lobster?

While these tasty crustaceans aren’t typically known for taking their place next to the Christmas turkey (unless you live in Atlantic Canada, perhaps), imports of American lobsters to Canada began soaring at the beginning of December, just prior to the arrival of the holiday season.

Before you go setting up cracking tools next to your usual cutlery, there’s two things to keep in mind. First, according to both Canadian and American industry experts, much of this season’s catch being imported to Canada will be re-exported to China as a means of allowing the latter to avoid higher tariffs recently imposed by U.S. government. Secondly, for the lobster that does remain in Canada, it won’t be available here until we cross over into 2019.

European Cheeses

What is more common on the dinner table at Christmas, however, are pre- or post-meal cheese plates, carefully plated with varieties from Germany, France, and other parts of Europe.

But while Canada’s new trade deal with the European Union recently marked its first year in effect, imports of new cheese varieties have been slow to arrive on Canadian shelves — likely the result of high compliance costs in other trade deals Canada is currently hashing out.

Only 1,821 tonnes of the agreed-upon 5,333 tonnes of EU cheese have made it across the border, and industry analysts don’t expect the latter number to be met, even with the holiday season creating demand. The Dairy Processors Association of Canada has taken a more optimistic stance, acknowledging the time it takes for new business to get set up, but expecting the fill rate will reach 100% by year’s end.

If that comes to pass remains to be seen, but Canadians can remain hopeful for future holidays, as imports on EU cheese are expected to rise to 16,000 tonnes annually between now and 2022.

Whether you’re taking a well-deserved rest over the holiday break, or you’re still right in the thick of importing during the seasonal rush, Merry Christmas from all of us at Clearit Canada! We’ll see you in 2019 for another year of helping you clear your imports through customs.