Quebec milk producers unhappy with Couche-Tard promo

Quebec's milk producers are speaking out against a promotion from the province's largest depanneur chain.

Couche-Tard is offering a free 240 mL bottle of Fairlife milk — an American brand of milk belonging to the Coca-Cola empire — to users of its smartphone app.

Patrice Juneau with Quebec's farmers union, the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA), says that's not a particularly patriotic move on Couche-Tard's part, to say the least — particularly in light of the recently concluded trade talks between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, where Canadian dairy farmers ended up being the big losers.

"In the context of what milk producers in Quebec and Canada lost already, it's a very surprising decision by Couche-Tard," Juneau says.

The new U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement, or USMCA, allows American dairy producers greatly expanded access to the Canadian market.

Last June, Coca-Cola was given a special 15-month licence to sell Fairlife milk in Canada after the soft drink giant announced it would be building a new production facility in Peterborough, Ontario. The new plant should be up and running by 2020, but until then, Fairlife products will be made and packaged in the U.S.

Juneau adds that American milk products are inferior to Canada's, in part because American farmers are allowed to uses antibiotics for their cows, while Canadians don't.