Mexicans eager to boost trade

CIGI seminars, tours | Grain buyers make connections with Canadian grain companies

Mexican grain industry players came to Canada unsure if their distant North American Free Trade Agreement partner could still supply top quality grain.

They left hoping to do even more business.

“Absolutely,” said Jana Jacqueline Padilla Jones about whether she thinks Canadian-Mexican crop trade can substantially increase.

Her railway company, Ferromex, already brings in Canadian grain, but “not as much as we would like.”

Cash market grain merchant Valdemar de la Garza Arredondo, owner of Agromercados de la Garza, often buys Canadian canola meal from Mexican crushers, and would like to buy directly from Canadian grain merchants.

“Not yet, (but) now we have a chance to buy directly,” said de la Garza, who along with Padilla Jones and eight other colleagues from the Mexican grain industry visited the Canadian International Grains Institute for a week of meetings, seminars and tours with Canadian grain industry counterparts.

CIGI holds annual courses with many customers of Canadian grain, but this Mexican program was a special case, created after the Canadian embassy in Mexico noted that a lot of Mexican buyers were worried about the implications of the end of the CWB monopoly.

The embassy contacted Agriculture Canada, which talked to CIGI, and the program was developed.

Mexico has a different array of crops and consumer food products and is less well known by Canadian farmers and the Canadian grain trade than the massive U.S. market.

However, it is a significant consumer of prairie crops.

It is always a leading export market for Canadian canola and is often a significant market for grain and special crops.

It is also the dominant market for canaryseed although trade is currently restricted.

Years like this one, with a serious drought in the U.S. Midwest and crop production problems in Mexico, have created odd flows of import grain for Mexican processors and millers, Padilla Jones said.

“We’re getting grain in Mexico from Brazil, from Argentina, from South Africa,” she said.

That helps raise the interest in non-U.S. markets, and Padilla Jones wanted to take advantage of the CIGI program to make direct contact with Canada’s railways, grain companies and merchants.

“I’m here because I’ve come to offer a fair option of transportation: rail-direct and 100 car unit trains into Mexico,” she said.

She wanted to make connections “that will enable the Cargills, the Richardsons, the Patersons and the Viterras and everybody to price whatever they want to sell into the final destination.”

De la Garza said the Mexican grain and food industries know Canada is an important source, but they know little about the country.

The recent changes to the CWB have drawn attention to this lack of knowledge.

“Canada is a neighbour. It’s a partner. It is a very important supply for Mexico. This trade is very important,” said de la Garza.

“I think more companies, more individuals, should come to Canada to know about this change.”

Padilla Jones said Canadian farmers and grain industry officials should consider visiting Mexico and attending grain industry events to learn more about the bustling market.

“The Mexican market is no different from any other market in the world,” said Padilla Jones.

“It’s a matter of price, quality and availability. (Canada’s farmers and industry) have the three.”

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