Pizza lovers could soon be paying less for their favourite pies.

A ruling made this week by the Canadian Dairy Commission could soon allow Canadian restaurants to buy deeply discounted mozzarella cheese.

The commission changed the rules used to classify mozzarella cheese, putting the milk product in its own class and essentially removing it from supply-management pricing. Before the ruling, the price for mozzarella cheese in Canada was artificially high when compared to the world market.

The new class, to take effect June 1, is expected to result in lower costs for Canadian-made mozzarella for restaurants that prepare and cook pizzas on site.

Bob Abumeeiz, who owns Arcata Pizzeria in Windsor, Ont., said the ruling could drop the price of a large pizza by as much as 10 per cent.

Price drop 'unheard of'

"I've been in this business 17 years, and this is the first time cheese has ever gone down," Abumeeiz said. "It's unheard of."

Abumeeiz said when he first started in the business, a kilogram of cheese cost $6.75. Today, he said it costs him $10. He spends $17,000 a month on mozzarella cheese.

Abumeeiz said he's "ecstatic about this news."

"Of course, it’s going to affect the price“ Abumeeiz said. "The more people that know about it, people are going to ask ‘cheese prices went down — how come the pizza price is the same?’ The customers are aware of what’s going on around them. It’s going to affect the bottom-line of the pizza price.”

Mario Dalimonte, who owns Bullseye Pizza in LaSalle, Ont., praised the ruling.

"This is like gas going down to 80 cents a litre. It's better for everyone," he said.

Dalimonte said cheese is two-thirds the cost of a pizza. He said lowering the cost would allow him to hire more people and give staff more hours of work.

Restaurant and pizzeria owners have been calling for cheaper cheese for almost 15 years, ever since frozen pizza makers — including frozen-food giant McCain — won an exemption from Ottawa that allowed them to buy cheese at the cheaper world market price.

"There's been an inequity with frozen pizza versus fresh pizza with the exact same mozza cheese, and we've been pushing and pushing and pushing (for changes)," said Garth Whyte, president of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association. "This is a major first step on dealing with this issue, and will be significant savings to our members who sell pizza."

Chains use cheaper 'pizza kits'

While frozen pizza makers have been allowed to buy cheaper cheese, a number of restaurant chains recently began circumventing hefty cheese tariffs by importing their mozzarella by way of pizza topping kits.

The Canada Border Services Agency last year designated the boxed cheese-and-pepperoni combinations as a food preparation, rather than simply cheese, meaning they could be imported duty-free.

"This puts us all on a level playing field," Dalimonte said.

It remains to be seen whether dairy processors will pass the savings from the new '3d' classification on to restaurant owners. Canada’s restaurant industry purchases $2.5 billion worth of dairy products annually.

Cheese accounts for between 50 and 70 per cent of the cost of a pizza.

High prices are part of the reason some pizzeria owners were turning to contraband cheese, smuggled into Canada from the U.S.

Last fall CBC News learned three men, including one current and one former police officer from the Niagara Falls area, were charged in connection with an international cheese-smuggling network.

The men are accused of smuggling caseloads of cheap cheese from the U.S. to sell to Canadian pizzerias and restaurants.

"It looks as though the farmers have hoisted the white flag," said James McIlroy, an international trade consultant based in Toronto, who called the mozzarella move the thin edge of a wedge that will only drive down prices for other milk products.

"This is going to go on and on," said McIlroy. "There's going to be more and more foreign processed products coming into Canada, using foreign dairy products, which are going to cause problems for our processed cheese industry."

Canada-U.S. price gap

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz called the move "good news for Canadian dairy farmers, processors and our restaurant industry."

But there will likely always be a price gap between Canadian products and those coming in from bigger markets, particularly the United States, Ritz said.

"At the end of the day I can get a hotel room in the same chain cheaper in the U.S., I can get a steak dinner (for less), it just goes on and on and on," said Ritz. "It comes down to economies of scale."

Ritz applauded the new mozzarella milk class as a good public relations move for Canada's dairy farmers and expressed hope that it would result in more consumption of Canadian-made cheese.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Pizza Hut's "Crown Crust Carnival"

    If regular pizza crust has you bored stiff, venture to the Middle East for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/24/pizza-hut-middle-east-crown-crust-carnival_n_1448413.html">Pizza Hut's stuffed crust pies -- filled with cheeseburgers and chicken fingers</a>. They're aptly named "Crown Crust Carnival" pizzas.

  • KFC's "Mac & Cheese Bites"

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/01/kfc-philippines-mac-and-cheese-bites_n_2058375.html">KFC's introduced "Mac & Cheese Bites" to the Philippines</a> earlier this year. The bite-sized snack has a crunchy outside filled with macaroni and a creamy cheese.

  • Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Stuffed Crust

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/hot-dog-stuffed-crust-pizza-hut_n_1412110.html">Hot dog-stuffed crust from Pizza Hut</a> is a very real thing, but unfortunately only in the U.K. Drat.

  • McDonald's "Gracoro" Burger

    We love croquettes, but on a burger? McDonald's Japan recently unveiled a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/mcdonalds-japans-gracoro-burger_n_2129343.html">burger with a croquette-esque patty of macaroni, shrimp and white sauce with a breadcrumb crust</a> called the "Gracoro" burger

  • Pizza Hut's Cheesy Bites Pizza

    First there was Pizza Hut U.K.'s hot dog-stuffed pizza. Then there was the Pizza Hut Middle East's hamburgers and chicken strips-stuffed crust. And then, crazy stuffed crust came to the U.S. with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/27/pizza-hut-cheesy-bites-review_n_1459361.html">Pizza Hut's Cheesy Bites Pizza</a>.

  • KFC's "Cheese Top Burger"

    Yes, this is real: KFC Philippines is offering something called the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/27/kfc-cheese-top-burger_n_1631452.html">"Cheese Top Burger,"</a> a fried chicken patty sandwich with garlic Parmesan dressing and a slice of cheese melted atop the bun.

  • Pizza Hut's "Double Sensation"

    Available only in Singapore through the end of December, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/20/pizza-hut-double-sensation_n_2338263.html?utm_hp_ref=food">Pizza Hut's "Double Sensation"</a> pie featured two crusts and two different rings of toppings. It's like two pizzas in one!

  • Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Tacos

    Doritos Locos tacos were a big winner this year, becoming Taco Bell's best-selling product ever. It sold about 100 million in roughly 10 weeks, and its popularity hasn't dimmed yet.

  • Burger King's "Premium Kuro Burger"

    Colored hamburger buns are the new big trend abroad, it would seem. Burger King Japan is the latest to join the ranks of alternative-color buns with its <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/24/burger-king-japan-kuro-burger_n_1910213.html">"Premium Kuro Burger,"</a> which aptly translates to "Black Burger." The buns are colored with bamboo charcoal that's mixed into the dough. The ketchup is black, too -- it's flavored with squid ink.

  • Wendy's Decadent Lobster And Caviar Offerings

    Wendy's Japan brings us two offerings you'd scarce believe are on a fast food menu: the Lobster Surf & Turf Burger and the Premium Caviar & Lobster sandwich. The Lobster & Caviar sandwich features both claw meat and lobster salad topped with a mustardy mayonnaise and sprinkled with caviar. The Surf & Turf Burger is a classic Wendy's burger topped with whole pieces of Canadian lobster.

  • Burger King's Bacon Sundae

    Bacon fever came to a head this summer with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/12/burger-king-bacon-sundae_n_1590522.html">Burger King's bacon sundae</a>, which although only a limited-time offering, earned a permanent place in our hearts and stomachs.

  • Pizza Hut's "Kit Kat Pops"

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/25/pizza-hut-middle-east-kit-kat-pops_n_1912387.html">Pizza Hut Middle East serves up an interesting dessert called "Kit Kat Pops,"</a> which look to be Kit Kat bars baked into sweet pizza dough. They come in a cheese variety, as well.

  • Pizza Hut's "Cone Crust Pizza"

    As if Pizza Huts in the Middle Eastern didn't already serve enough over-the-top pizzas, the chain now serves <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/24/cone-crust-pizza-hut_n_1911029.html?utm_hp_ref=food">"Cone Crust Pizza."</a> The pie features Parmesan-crusted dough cones where a normal crust should be. The cones come stuffed in either Philadelphia cream cheese or honey mustard chicken.