Greek Feta: Gaining shares in Canada

Greek feta shares in Canada

The CETA trade agreement between the European Union and Canada seems to turn out in favor of the Greek PDO Feta Cheese: authentic Greek feta products constantly gain ground in the Canadian market, a market that was previously flooded with imitation products from Denmark and Bulgaria.

According to data presented in a report by the Toronto Office of Economic and Commercial Affairs, while in 2018 (the year in which the CETA agreement was concluded) Greek Feta cheese exports to Canada amounted to 659,000 kg worth 4.25 million euros, in 2022 exports increased to 846,000 kg worth €6.39 million, while the 2023 estimate is that it recorded a spectacular rise, reaching almost 1 million kg (979,772 to be exact) worth €9.98 million, according to figures for the first eleven months of 2023.

Overall, from 2018 to 2023, an impressive 49% increase in the quantities of feta cheese exported from Greece to Canada is recorded (the associated increase in the value of exports was 111%). The rate of change of feta exports in 2023 (January – November) compared to 2022 amounted to 41% in terms of value and 16% in terms of quantity. The greater increase in value over quantity is largely due to the inflationary trends that prevailed worldwide last year.

Greek export share skyrockets

The increase in sales meant an increase in the share of Greek feta sold in Canada. In 2017, Greece accounted for just 47.3% of Canada’s total feta or so called “feta” imports by value, a figure that in 2018 rose to 60.3%, while in 2022 it had already risen to nearly 70%. In contrast, imports of ‘feta’ from Denmark have declined significantly: in 2017 they represented 46.6% of the total in quantity and 47.3% in value, but in 2022 they had fallen to 13% in quantity and 24, 9% in value. Imports of so called “feta” from Bulgaria follow a corresponding downward trend. Consequently, between 2017 and 2022, the market share of both Denmark, from 30.2% to 13%, and Bulgaria, from 18.9% to 11%, decreased, benefiting Greek exports.

Low price problem

According to the report of the IEA Toronto Office, our concern should be that whether as an authentic Greek-produced feta cheese, or as a Canadian-produced “feta” type cheese, the feta available on the Canadian market is one of the cheapest cheeses available. For example, in January 2024 a typical price of Greek feta in a supermarket was 35-40 Canadian dollars per kilo (27.5 euros per kilo), while imported cheeses are usually sold at prices above 60 Canadian dollars per kilo.

For example, out of a total of 34 feta cheeses available online, only two were of Greek origin. Prices ranged from CAD 18.3 per kg (€12.5/kg) to USD 59.9 per kg (€41/kg), while the two Greek products were available for USD 37.5 per kg (25.7 €/kg) and 39 dollars per kg (€26.7/kg), in packages of 200 grams and 1 kg respectively. Generally speaking, retail prices do not seem to depend on the origin (Greek or non-Greek) of the cheese or the milk used for its production or other characteristics. Lower, by approximately 10%-25%, are usually the prices of Greek-origin feta in retail stores run by expats, where it is also available in bulk.