Canada stamped a 10% tariff on imported American ketchup in July, as part of its retaliation for new US tariffs on Canadian metal.
Prime minister Justin Trudeau, speaking in New York today (Sept. 25), explained that there was a specific logic behind targeting US ketchup.
“The thing with tariffs is they actually raise prices for consumers,” said Trudeau, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations during an event on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
In order to protect Canadian consumers, the government chose products where consumers could opt for competitors made in Canada and not affected by the tariffs, theoretically thus avoiding an increase at the cash register. Ketchup fit the bill.
“We have ketchup made in Canada, called French’s ketchup, and it’s just great,” said Trudeau. “And so if you’re going to raise the price of Heinz’s ketchup, Canadians should have an alternative that’s not going to cost them more in their pocketbooks. But it does have an impact on the American company.”
Heinz is a particular target, because it put about 700 Canadian workers out of jobs in 2014 when it closed a plant in Ontario. French’s, which is mainly known for its mustard, began making ketchup in Canada after Heinz closed its plant.
French’s is actually an American company as well—it’s owned by McCormick & Co. of Baltimore. But it boasts that the ketchup sold in Canada is made there, with Canadian tomatoes.