Pakistan has re-emerged as a major buyer of Canadian canola in 2015-16.
It has purchased 682,800 tonnes through the first nine months of the current crop year.
China, Japan and Mexico are consistently the top three buyers of canola seed in that order, but this year Pakistan is rivalling Mexico.
It has bought nine percent of total exports compared to 12 percent for Mexico.
“We’re watching what’s going on there,” said Bruce Jowett, vice-president of market development with the Canola Council of Canada.
“Pakistan has not been an area that we’ve done a lot of work as a council because of the historic ups and downs.”
For instance, a country that purchased over 700,000 tonnes of Canadian canola in 2010 and again in 2011 bought none in 2013.
“We want to work in markets where you’re not in and you’re out because of the economics,” said Jowett.
“We want to be in markets where we can get a consistent demand. That’s what really helps the Canadian industry.”
The imported canola is crushed in Pakistan but Jowett doesn’t know what happens after that.
“My thought would be that it would probably be an export play for them,” he said.
India also has a large rapeseed crushing industry but it doesn’t buy canola seed due to phytosanitary laws that prohibit the importing of canola seed. But India is a sizable importer of Canadian canola oil.
Bruce Burnett, weather and crop specialist with G3 Canada, has a theory why Pakistan is buying so much canola this crop year.
He believes it is due to poor rapeseed production in the region because of back-to-back disappointing monsoon rains.
“Certainly it’s probably behind part of the reason that they’re importing more canola this year,” said Burnett.
Jowett has a different theory. He believes it is because Canada has harvested three big canola crops in a row.
“We view it as they’re being opportunistic on availability and price,” he said.
Jowett said while Pakistan has been a good canola seed customer in 2015-16 he wouldn’t lump the country in with the likes of China, Japan and Mexico, which are consistently big buyers of the crop year-after-year.
One thing the council would like to know is if the canola oil that is being produced in Pakistan is knowingly being consumed as canola oil or if it is being marketed as some type of alternative vegetable oil.
That will require consumer research.