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China will remain key Canadian soybean market

Recent trade mission suggests demand for food and feed soybeans will continue to grow in that country

China is going to be an important and growing market for all types of Canadian soybeans for the foreseeable future.

Soy Canada says it was told loud and clear both food and feed soybeans will continue to be in demand while participating in a recent federal trade mission to China.

China is the Canadian soybean industry’s largest export market, consuming about 28 per cent of the soybeans exported from Canada. Exports of beans and soy products have increased to 1.2 million tonnes, worth $588 million in 2015. Canada is the fifth-largest supplier of soybeans to China.

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“The market continues to grow starting at zero 20 years ago,” Jim Everson, Soy Canada’s executive director, said. “They buy beans from both Eastern and Western Canada.”

Soy Canada participated in the early-November trade mission led by Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay. It was the association’s second market development visit to China and included visits with a number of key Chinese soybean industry stakeholders in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Soy Canada hosted two information seminars and showcased the quality of Canadian soybeans at three different “Export Cafes.”

“Demand for Canadian soybeans in China continues to trend upward,” he said. “We expect exports of both commodity and food-grade soybeans to the region to increase. There is a lot of optimism surrounding the Canadian and Chinese governments’ recent commitment to engage in exploratory free trade talks.”

Everson said farmers have the choice of many different varieties of food- and feed-grade soybeans.

“The grain companies know where the product is going and what kinds are wanted,” he said.

The Chinese livestock industry has been a big consumer of soybeans for feed but Chinese consumers are including more soy products in their diet.

Canada exported 4.5 million tonnes of 6.2 million tonnes produced in 2015. After China, the main customers were the United States at 800,000 tonnes and Japan at 357,430 tonnes. Ontario produces half of the soybean crop followed by Manitoba and Quebec. In 2016, 5.5 million hectares were seeded to soybeans, slightly above 2015 and about 100,000 hectares less than in 2014, which was the biggest year.

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