By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
Federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz is leading a delegation of more than 70 members to China this week to promote Canadian agricultural products.
About 30 agricultural groups and representatives from four provinces will be in attendance, making it the largest agricultural trade mission of its kind.
In 2013, Canadian agricultural exports to China accounted for about $5.2-billion, which represents roughly five per cent of China’s imports. But Ritz hopes to double or triple that number.
Currently, the most significant portion of Canadian agricultural export sales to China are canola products, which makes up half of all agricultural exports. In 2013 canola sales generated approximately $2.83-billion.
The trade mission is particularly important for the Canadian meat industry, who are looking for more market opportunities, as the U.S. country-of-origin (COOL) meat labelling rules have made it difficult to export Canadian livestock products south of the boarder. And since COOL was first introduced in 2008, it has reduced Canadian meat exports by half.
Ritz would like to see meat shipments to China expanded. At this time, only boneless beef from animals under 30 months of age are accepted. China is expected to double its global beef imports over the next five years, making it an even more attractive market.
The same is true for the Canadian pork industry. In 2013 pork sales to China topped a quarter of a billion dollars. Chair of the Canadian Pork Council, Jean-Guy Vincent, praised the federal government’s efforts to focus on expanding export markets for Canadian pork products.
Ritz is scheduled to deliver a keynote address to delegates of the World Meat Congress in Beijing.