Canada is working to diversify its canola seed sales, says Brian Innes, the Canola Council of Canada’s vice-president of public affairs.
“As an industry we are doing what we can to diversify,” Innes said in an interview from Geneva, Switzerland Oct. 28 where Canada and China had their first face-to-face meeting over the canola dispute. “But we are also keenly aware that we need to do more to diversify at home and abroad. What’s been made clear to us is that we can’t flick a switch at the WTO (World Trade Organization) and get our export opportunities back tomorrow.
“Internationally we need to diversify our markets in Asia and that requires more efforts to resolve market access challenges.”
Meanwhile Canada continues to export canola seed to countries other than China, Innes said.
“We are seeing strong demand from Europe,” he said. “There is also canola flowing to other markets like the UAE (United Arab Emirates), Pakistan and Bangladesh.”
During the first two months of the 2019-20 crop year (August and September), Canadian canola seed exports to the UAE jumped by 150,100 tonnes, or 816 per cent compared to the same period last year, Canadian Grain Commission figures show.
Neil Townsend, FarmLink’s chief marketing analyst, says much of that seed is being crushed and then exported to China as oil.
During the same period Canadian canola seed exports to Japan, the European Union, Mexico and Pakistan are up 92,200, 83,200, 55,200 and 36,300 tonnes, respectively. (That’s up 70, 134, 41, and 25 per cent from last year.)
Canada also needs to sell more canola domestically, Innes said.
“At home that means listening to Canadian voters and using more canola for biofuel to reduce GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions,” he said. “Biofuels made with canola and other vegetable oils do exactly that.
“Both the Liberals and Conservatives talked about biofuels as an opportunity to reduce GHG emissions.”
If the federal requirement for biodiesel jumped to five per cent that would require 1.1 million tonnes of canola seed, Innes said.
“It’s not replacing China, but it is a significant amount,” he said. “It’s stable demand at a time when the canola sector is very much in need of stable demand.”