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Oil, meal touted in China talks

Canada’s canola marketers are talking up the crop’s unique oil benefits and better-than-assumed meal benefits in China.

The Canola Council of Canada has been holding seminars about canola oil and meal with Chinese processors and nutritionists.

As well, it has held what it called a “canola dialogue” in Beijing.

The canola council hopes it becomes the first of an annual canola dialogue with the Chinese industry and government, said CCC president Jim Everson in a conference call from Beijing.

Fortunately for Canada, Chinese importers and processors have not raised worries about blackleg, the disease the Chinese government cites as the reason for restrictions on imports of Canadian canola.

Blackleg was discussed at the meeting, but only in the context of explaining the efforts of Canada and China to study and limit the impact of any blackleg that arrives with Canada’s canola shipments.

Canola oil’s positive human health benefits and the value of canola protein meal for livestock are not well understood in China, Everson said.

China bought $2.7 billion of Canadian canola last year, but Chinese consumers do not generally perceive the seed’s oil as having a premium health value. Nor do pig feed companies and farmers realize that canola meal can be a significant part of their rations.

In a seminar with the Chinese feed industry, University of Manitoba feed scientist Martin Nyachoti and a Chinese scientist explained that canola meal can make up to 30 percent of a swine ration.

“I think it was pretty new news to them,” said the CCC’s market development vice-president, Bruce Jowett. That “is about double what they’re putting in the ration (now.)”

The seminar highlighted canola oil’s ability to provide fat that is not unhealthy, a focus that should find growing interest in China because “cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death…. Diabetes is climbing in China,” said Jowett.

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