Shipments of Canadian canola oil and canola meal are continuing to move to China, according to a senior canola industry official.
Brian Innes, vice-president of public affairs at the Canola Council of Canada, said oil and meal sales to China have not been affected by a trade dispute that’s currently affecting canola seed exports.
“Oil and meal shipments continue to go to China,” Innes told The Western Producer April 12.
“We continue to have sales executed and there continues to be strong demand for both oil and meal.”
Earlier this month, former Canadian agriculture minister Gerry Ritz said that a shipment of Canadian canola oil had been halted in China.
Innes declined to comment on an “individual company’s shipments” but acknowledged that “challenges at port and customs occur from time to time.”
“Companies deal with this as a matter of course whether it’s in China or elsewhere,” he said.
“I think what it does illustrate to farmers is that our exporters face challenges like that on an ongoing basis, not just in China but in markets around the world.”
“Delays, inspection and demurrage, and costs incurred with those delays, are something our exporters deal with.”
Canadian exports of canola oil and meal to China have increased steadily over the past three years.
Oil exports to China reached a record 1.2 million tonnes in 2018, up from about 700,000 tonnes in 2017 and 600,000 tonnes in 2016.
Meal exports also hit a record 1.4 million tonnes in 2018, up from one million tonnes in 2017 and 650,000 tonnes in 2016.
Requests for information from the Canadian Oilseed Producers Association (COPA) were redirected to canola council.
There are currently 11 canola crush plants in Western Canada.
COPA members include Bunge, Viterra, Louis Dreyfus, ADM, Richardson and Cargill.
Innes said all crush plants in the West have licenses to export product to China.
Last week, a news report in the Vancouver Sun newspaper said the pace of Canada’s canola oil exports had increased.
According to the report, West Coast Reductions (WCR), a major player in the vegetable oil shipping industry, was on pace to move as much as 90,000 tonnes of canola oil in April, up from 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes in a typical month.
The article suggested Canadian oil exporters have increased the pace of shipments fearing that their products might also be targeted by China.
“There is concern in the industry that, for whatever reason, (that export permits) might not get renewed,” WCR director of sales Rob Jones told the Sun.
Innes said every shipment of canola oil to China “needs to have an export certificate related to biotechnology or the genetically modified traits that were used to produce the shipment.”
“Before a shipment can be received or even shipped, it needs to have that specific certificate for that shipment,” Innes said.
Certificates usually have a six-month time limit on them so there is also a recurring process of applying for new certificates so that trade is not interrupted, he added.
“This is one of the issues that we’ve been working on for some time at the Canola Council — issues around the predictability of these certificates and the timeliness of these certificates — because … if you don’t have a certificate, you can’t trade.”
“At times, not having certificates has prevented us from trading all canola products, whether it’s seed, oil or meal.”
China is the second-largest buyer of Canadian canola oils and meal, behind the United States.
Meal shipped to China is used primarily in the dairy and aquaculture sectors, although a smaller amount is also used in Chinese pig rations.