OTTAWA /CNW/ - Restaurant industry leaders will be calling for fair dairy pricing for all Canadians during a meeting today with the Canadian Dairy Commission (CDC) tribunal that determines the price of milk.

The artificially high price of industrial milk - used to make cheese, butter, ice cream and yogurt - has driven up the cost of dairy products to the point where they are out of reach for many consumers, and driving down dairy consumption in Canada.

"Canada's dairy pricing system is designed to be complex in order to drive prices up and escape public scrutiny," says Garth Whyte, President and CEO of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA). "It's time for a fair and transparent dairy pricing system that works for restaurant operators, farmers, and consumers."

The current system has resulted in industrial milk prices skyrocketing by nearly 60 per cent since 1994 while the cost of production, as measured by the CDC, increased by just over 6 per cent.

"Restaurant operators are calling for a price roll-back," says Whyte. "Record-high dairy prices in Canada are driving consumers to make other menu choices and eroding demand for dairy products."

CRFA is one of Canada's largest business associations, with more than 30,000 members representing restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and other foodservice providers. The foodservice industry directly employs more than one million people across Canada.