Canada has significantly expanded its capacity for beef exports to China, with four more plants added to the list of approved facilities.
The listing of Les Viandes Laroche Inc in Quebec, Ryding Regency Meat Packers in Ontario, St Helen’s Meat Packers in Ontario, and Canadian Premium Meats in Alberta brings the total number of Canadian plants approved for export to China to seven and means the Chinese market is open to almost 90% of Canada’s beef processing capacity.
Announcing the approval of the plants, Canada’s Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said: “This important step sets the stage for further trade opportunities in China for our beef producers,” said Minister Ritz. “Our government’s top priority remains the economy, and by expanding markets in dynamic countries like China, we are helping Canadian producers increase their bottom line, which leads to more jobs, prosperity, and economic growth.”
The news has been welcomed by the Canadian meat industry. Canadian Meat Council executive director Jim Laws pointed out that that international trade was “crucial” to the country’s livestock and meat sector, adding that improved access to foreign markets such as China would help improve the competitiveness of the industry and the quality of Canadian meat.
“Canada’s meat processors appreciate and value highly the support and persistence of Ministers Ritz and Fast and the officials of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in their efforts to negotiate continual improvements in Canada’s access to the dynamic Chinese market,” he said.
“Today’s expansion of the list of establishments eligible to export beef constitutes yet another notable step toward full implementation of the Cooperative Arrangements signed by Canada and China during the visit to Canada of former President Hu Jintao in 2010 and the visit to China of Prime Minister Harper in 2012.”
Canada first reached an agreement to export deboned beef to from animals under 30 months of age (UTM) in June 2011, becoming the first BSE-affected country to resume beef exports to China. According to Canada Beef, the Chinese market for UTM is worth about C$20m annually.
Rob Meijer, president of Canada Beef, said: “Our reputation as a reliable supplier of high-quality, premium grain-fed beef is at the core of our Canadian beef brand promise to customers around the world. Being able to match demand with supply from a larger complement of federal abattoirs is one of the primary means to ensure Canada will be competitive internationally.
“From a Canadian beef brand, marketing and promotions perspective, we are pleased an increased number of exporters will now be eligible to ship to this promising and valued market.”
Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) president Martin Unrau said that with capacity expanded for boneless UTM beef, the focus would now be on expanding access to include bone-in UTM beef.
“Canada has shipped enough high-quality beef to China that meets their current specifications and we can do the same with bone-in UTM beef,” he explained. “Canadian producers are eager to tap this market, although volumes will likely continue to be impacted by the barrier around ractopamine, despite the establishment of an internationally agreed maximum residue level by CODEX.”