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Maritimers could see different kinds of meat, strawberries on shelves this summer

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Many Maritimers are getting their barbecues ready for the summer season, but they could be using different kinds of food for their weekend parties and cabin getaways this year.

Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab director Sylvain Charlebois spoke with CTV News Atlantic’s Todd Battis about the incoming barbecue season during an interview on Wednesday. Charlebois noted issues in the Canadian meat industry could result in different beef sources appearing on grocery store shelves.

“There’s a strike affecting the largest processing plant in Guelph (and) another strike could happen in Calgary,” Charlebois said. “Grocers may go south to get beef. You may have something to grill, but it might not be Canadian.”

Charlebois said grocers could turn to Mexico to supply beef. He notes Mexican beef is not graded, like Canadian meat which does not mean it’s inedible or unsafe.

“The quality is unknown,” he said. “I’d think about stews with Mexican beef, not the barbecue. It’s not as tender.”

Barbecues are main fixtures for Maritimers in the summer. Charlebois and his team recently conducted a survey that found New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are the number one and three provinces, respectively, when it comes to barbecue intensity.

“I think it has to do with the weather,” he said. “The window of opportunity is small. It’s not always a joy to go out and barbecue in the winter so in the summer we take advantage of it.”

Charlebois also notes how Maritimers could see differently-sourced strawberries this season, noting California’s bumper crop making its way into Canada.

“They’re exporting $60 million worth of strawberries,” he said. “Farmers will be against stiff competition. Strawberries from California don’t taste the same as strawberries here. To be wise, Superstore and Sobeys will probably carry both.

“All of us will be faced with a local dilemma. Either go with the cheaper ones that don’t taste the same or get the more expensive ones that actually do taste like something.”

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