Test Marketing and Other Authorizations

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Table of Contents

Test Market Exemptions

Under limited circumstances, foods may be eligible for an exemption from certain regulatory requirements for the purposes of test marketing a product. Companies may request an authorization to test market a product that is not in compliance with:

  • bilingual labelling requirements of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations (CPLR);
  • standard container sizes requirements in the CPLR; and
  • certain provisions of the Processed Products Regulations (PPR)

Other commodities, such as honey and fresh fruits and vegetables also may be eligible for test market exemptions. Please refer to the Food-Specific Labelling Requirements of the Industry Labelling Tool for more information.

A Test Market Food is only exempt from certain regulatory provisions and must comply with applicable legislation in all other respects.

Test Market Exemptions under the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations and the Food and Drug Regulations

A company may request to test market a food that complies with current legislation in all respects, except for the bilingual labelling requirements and standardized container sizes under the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations and the bilingual labelling requirements of the Food and Drug Regulations. Note: Other sets of regulations may also permit test market foods; requirements should be verified with the applicable legislation.

According to the CPLR and FDR, for a food to be granted a Test Market Food status, it must never have been sold in Canada in that form and must differ substantially from any other food sold in Canada with respect to its composition, function, state or packaging form. A Test Market Food includes food for which a manufacturer or distributor has been issued a Temporary Marketing Authorization Letter under FDR.

Six weeks prior to conducting the test market, a dealer wishing to conduct a test market must file a Notice of Intention to Test Market in the prescribed form and manner. The Notice of Intention to Test Market should be completed on company letterhead and should include the following:

  1. A description of the prepackaged product, together with submission of a sample in prepackaged form or alternatively, an illustration of the prepackaged product and the label;
  2. The quantity to be distributed;
  3. The period of time for test marketing (maximum period is 12 months); and
  4. The geographic area or region in which the test market is to be conducted.
    • An entire province is considered too large an area for test-market purposes.
    • Cities are generally accepted, provided they include a "local government unit" where either French or English is the "mother tongue" of less than 10 percent of the population and provided the mandatory label information is shown in the other official language.
    • Census information regarding potentially-restricted areas may be obtained from:

      Statistics Canada
      General Enquiries
      R.H. Coates Building
      Tunney's Pasture
      Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0T6
      Telephone 613-951-8116

  5. Dealers must also include information, with supporting data, to substantiate that the test market product was not previously sold in Canada in that form and to establish that it differs substantially from any other product sold in Canada with respect to its composition, function, state or packaging form.

The Notice of Intention to Test Market should be addressed to:

Director, Consumer Protection and Market Fairness Division
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
1400 Merivale Road
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0Y9


  • Test market foods are not exempt from bilingual labelling requirements when both official languages are the mother tongue of less than 10% of the population residing in a local government unit. For example, if the mother tongue of a local government unit consists of only 9% French and 9% English, along with several different languages totalling 82% of the population, the food would be required to be labelled in both official languages, i.e., French and English. [B.01.012(4), FDR; 6(4) CPLR].
  • The exemption also does not apply where each official language is the mother tongue for more than 10% of its residents. For example, both Ottawa, Ontario and Montreal, Québec have a population of more than 10% of both anglophones and francophones and therefore are not locations where a test market food would be exempt from bilingual labelling requirements.

Test Market Authorizations under the Processed Products Regulations

Part 1.2, Section 9.1 of the Processed Products Regulations (PPR) provides for the test marketing of regulated processed fruit and vegetable products that are in compliance with the requirements for all foods prescribed under the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) and Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (CPLA), but are not compliant with certain requirements prescribed in the PPR. Examples of such products include, but are not limited to, products packed in different container sizes and products containing new ingredients.

The exception to the above requirement is that Test Marketing Authorizations are not required for food that contains one or more additives allowed in the Health Canada's List of permitted Food Additives even if they are not permitted in the PPR.

If a food's composition is not compliant with the FDR, such as food additive use that is not provided for, and the manufacturer/importer wishes to proceed with the marketing of this product, then the issuance of a Marketing Authorization by Health Canada is needed prior to requesting a Test Market Authorization (TMA) from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Applying for a Test Market Authorization

Step 1

An operator of a registered establishment or an importer of food products may apply in writing to the Director, Consumer Protection and Market Fairness Division, for an authorization to test market a food product that does not meet the requirements of the PPR with the exception of the food additives permitted in the Lists of permitted Food Additives. The application shall contain:

  1. A letter requesting a TMA that includes the information specified in the sample letter below
  2. A sample of the product
  3. If the product is certified organic, a copy of the certificate
  4. Three samples of the label that will be applied to the food product (a reasonable facsimile of the label can be submitted with the application if the final label is submitted to the Director within 90 days after the date of issue of the authorization)
Step 2

An email acknowledging receipt of your application will be sent to you, usually within a week of receiving your application.

Step 3

As per section 9.1(5) of the PPR, the Director may issue a test marketing authorization if the information provided substantiates that the test marketing of the food product will not:

  1. Disrupt the normal or usual trading patterns of the industry
  2. Confuse or mislead the public; or
  3. Have an adverse effect on public health or safety or on product pricing

Following assessment of the TMA submission, the Director's office will communicate the final decision and other pertinent information.

If the submission for a TMA is deemed complete and satisfactory, an Authorization Letter will be sent indicating the duration of the TMA and any other applicable conditions. Depending on the complexity of a submission, processing of applications and subsequent issuance of authorizations usually varies from 8 to 12 weeks. This may increase if further information is required in order to assess the submission.

If the submission is deemed unsatisfactory, the Director's office will also send a written notification of the final decision. The response will indicate the reason for declining the issuance of a TMA as it pertains to applicable sections of the Regulations.

For more information on applying for a TMA, please contact your local CFIA office.

Sample Letter


Director, Consumer Protection and Market Fairness Division
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
1400 Merivale Road
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0Y9

The XXX Company requests a Test Market Authorization (TMA) under section 9.1 of the Processed Products Regulations (PPR) to market the following product(s):

  1. Common Name
  2. Brand Name
  3. Non-compliant element(s) under the PPR/purpose of test marketing
  4. Ingredients
  5. Type and size of container
  6. Formulation/method of manufacture
  7. Country of origin
  8. Manufactured by: name and address
  9. Imported by (if applicable)
  10. Total quantity of products to be test marketed
  11. Period of time requested to test market (maximum is 24 months)
  12. Geographic area of distribution
  13. Port of importation (if applicable)
  14. Applicant:
    • Name
    • Address
    • Telephone and facsimile
    • email
    • Establishment registration number (if applicable)

The container used meets the requirements of Division 23 of Part B of the Food and Drug Regulations. The label of the container is not misleading as to the nature, quantity, quality, composition, character, safety, value, variety or origin of the food product, and meets the requirements of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations and the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. With the exception of the non-compliant element(s) listed in item 3 above, the product meets all the requirements as established under the PPR. Enclosed is a sample of the product and three copies of the label planned to be used.

(Name in block letters)

Temporary Marketing Authorization Letters

There is a distinction between a Test Market Food and a food that has received Temporary Marketing Authorization under the Food and Drug Regulations.

A Temporary Marketing Authorization Letter (TMAL), issued by the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, authorizes the sale of a food that does not meet one or more of the compositional, packaging, labelling or advertising requirements under the Food and Drugs Act and Food and Drug Regulations. The authorization is granted for a specified period of time, within a designated area and in a specified quantity for a specific manufacturer or distributor. A TMAL does not exempt foods from the requirements under the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations, or other food legislation.

The purpose of a Temporary Marketing Authorization is to generate information in support of a proposed amendment to the Food and Drug Regulations.

For example, as a condition for obtaining a TMAL for the use of non-permitted labelling on a food, the companies involved agree:

  • to use only those non-permitted labelling statements approved by the Health Products and Food Branch,
  • to use these to carry out studies to determine consumer attitudes to the labelling and advertising material, and
  • to submit the results of these studies to the Health Products and Food Branch.

Further information on TMALs is available in Health Canada's General Guidance Document for Temporary Marketing Authorization for foods. Applications for a Temporary Marketing Authorization Letter and questions regarding any procedural details in applying for the TMAL should be addressed to:

Submission Management and Information Unit
Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch
Health Canada
251 Sir Frederick Banting Driveway
Postal Locator 2202E
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9

Phone: 613-960-0552
Fax: 613-946-4590

Email address: smiu-ugdi@hc-sc.gc.ca

Marketing Authorizations

The Marketing Authorization (MA) authority is a regulatory tool that the Minister of Health may choose to use to implement certain food decisions. These are administered by Health Canada. Food industry stakeholders may put forward a submission to change some aspect of food regulation, which in turn may result in the amendment of an existing MA or the creation of a new MA. For example, MA's may be used to authorize a specific food additive use in foods sold in Canada.

For more information, refer to Health Canada's Marketing Authorization. The list of valid Marketing Authorizations can also be accessed from this page.

The MA authority has replaced, at the level of the Food and Drugs Act, the ability to issue an Interm Marketing Authorization (IMA). As such, Health Canada will no longer be issuing IMAs.

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