Final steps for approval | Chinese regulators plan to carry out on-site inspections of Canadian crushing facilities
Canadian canola meal has been shut out of the Chinese market since Jan. 1, but the ban could be coming to an end, says an industry official.
Canola meal had been making great strides in China in recent years. Canada shipped a high of 825,000 tonnes of the product in 2010, but exports fell to 586,000 tonnes in 2011 and 303,000 tonnes last year. There have been no shipments this year.
Bruce Jowett, vice-president of market development with the Canola Council of Canada, said the Chinese government is attempting to repair its tarnished image as a food safety regulator.
Chinese consumers have lost faith in the food they eat and government oversight of the industry in the wake of scares such as the melamine scandal, in which infant formula and other products were contaminated with the chemical.
Another incident occurred when a criminal ring started harvesting used restaurant grease from gutters on the street, cleaning it up and selling it as edible oil. The leader of the ring has been jailed for life.
“This is why it’s not so simple just to ship meal over into China,” Jowett told delegates attending the 2013 canola meetings.
The Chinese government is forcing all Canadian crushers to meet its internal safety standards, despite them already being certified by the International Organization for Standardization.
Crushers have completed all the necessary documentation required by Chinese authorities. The next step is a thorough on-site inspection of their facilities.
Two teams from the AQSIQ Association, a Chinese government body in charge of national food safety, were scheduled to be conducting the inspections this week. It is the final step in the registration process.
“We’re hoping that we’ll see the meal industry into China open up,” said Jowett.
He expects it to happen next year.
Jowett said there is growing demand for canola meal.
The canola council recently shared the results of a two-year feed trial study with the Chinese dairy industry. Canola meal was substituted for soybean meal at rates of 3.7 to 10 percent at China’s five largest dairy operations.
Four out of the five dairies experienced an increase in milk production. The results ranged from a loss of 0.2 kilograms per cow per day to a gain of 1.2 kg., with an average gain of .6 kg.
Jowett said the Chinese government is aware of the results and is keen on resuming canola meal imports once the Canadian crushers are fully registered with AQSIQ.
China has become Canada’s largest canola customer. The country imported $3.18 billion worth of seed, oil and meal last year. Seed accounted for $1.87 billion of the total, followed by $1.22 billion worth of oil and $90 million of meal.
Jowett said one concern is that China, the United States, Japan and Mexico have become such dominant canola customers.
“Those four countries make up 94 percent of what we exported last year,” he said.
Jowett said it’s nice to have such loyal clients, but it is also risky because Canada must find a new home for its seed, oil and meal if one of them erects a trade barrier.
That is why the council is trying to solidify other overseas markets.