Companies that pack what they sell are not going to have enough time to repackage products to bring them in line with proposed Health Canada nutrition labelling rules, according to two prominent food industry groups.

Larry Dworkin, government relations director at the Packaging Association of Canada (PAC), said that his organisation has requested the government to consider incorporating a format flexibility into the final version of the labelling regulations, which could see manufacturers not only have to redesign labels but also traditional packaging shapes.

He told Marketing Magazine: "Unless we have up to four years to make the required changes, not only will substantial design work be lost to US design firms, but we will also lose packaging contracts altogether, affecting thousands of jobs.

"Quite simply, there are not enough design firms here to do the job." 

PAC, he said, has been advised to lobby "up the line" for an extension in the law's implementation, as there may be some useful political considerations.

Meanwhile, Laurie Curry, VP of public policy and scientific affairs at Food and Consumer Products Manufacturers of Canada (FCPMC), revealed that her group has also lobbied Health Canada for a three-year implementation period to give food producers enough time for the changeover.

Curry said that the costs of repackaging to the industry, a figure placed at C$357m (US$222.8m) by Health Canada, could be reduced by as much as C$94m if the implementation of the law is postponed by just one year.