China trip boosts food industry

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s trade mission to China seems to have opened doors for major Canadian agri-food exporters.

Now they’ll have to translate those agreements into orders.

The beef, pork, pulse and canola sectors all received special attention during the visit and the Canadian Wheat Board got to remind everyone it isn’t going out of business.

Among the positives were an agreement to work toward the approval of additional Canadian beef export facilities, the inclusion of beef and offal from cattle under 30 months of age along with beef tallow in future shipments, and increased opportunities for the export of live dairy cattle genetics.

President Travis Toews of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association called the mission very rewarding and said he’s confident beef products from animals over 30 months of age would be added to the export list in the near future.

The president of the Canadian Meat Council was also happy.

“Of particular interest to us is the initiative on agriculture that clears the way for immediate access to the lucrative Chinese beef tallow market,” said Scott Entz.

In 2002, the year before the discovery of BSE in Canada, those exports topped $31 million, making China the biggest export market for Canadian tallow. In 2010, China imported more than $400 million in tallow from countries around the world.

Once full market access is achieved, it is expected Canadian beef and beef product exports to China could exceed $110 million per year.

“China is an important market for Canadian farmers and by working together with Chinese producers and processors we can open new windows of opportunity in both countries,” said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.

China agreed to certify additional Canadian plants to export beef; begin technical discussions on expanding beef access; create a joint technical working group to move forward a Canada-China Cooperation dairy farm pilot project; and discuss technical export conditions for Canadian dairy cattle.

Tongwei Co. Ltd., a major Chinese feed company, will increase its purchase of Canadian canola meal by up to $240 million annually by 2015. The company anticipates its imports of Canadian canola could rise to $900 million over the next decade. The Canola Council of Canada has been working with a number of Chinese dairy and aquaculture processing companies to demonstrate the superior quality and nutritional benefits of canola meal. As a result, Tongwei intends to increase its use of Canadian canola meal in its aquafeed and to include it in other animal feed rations.

A new memorandum of understanding between Canada and China that will support research aimed at more effectively mitigating risks associated with blackleg was also signed. In 2010, $1.8 billion worth of canola was exported to China.

As well, Gensus Inc., a major swine breeder, signed a $1.6-million contract with Best Genetics for 1,000 swine.

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