Meat industry groups concerned over China export ban, working with government
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, June 26, 2019 12:26PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 26, 2019 1:26PM EDT
China's sudden ban on Canadian beef and pork imports "will create a huge financial loss" for the sector that counts the Asian country among its top five international markets.
"Meat processors, along with the entire meat and livestock industry, are extremely concerned as this will have a significant business impact on our sector," said the Canadian Meat Council in a statement.
The group represents Canada's federally registered meat packers and processors, and suppliers of goods and services in the industry. It focuses on international trade as one of its priorities.
The Chinese Embassy said Tuesday it asked Canada to suspend all meat exports after Chinese customs inspectors detected residue from a feed additive that is restricted in China in a batch of Canadian pork products. A subsequent investigation found forged veterinary health certificates attached to the batch.
So far this year, Canadian beef and pork exports to China had been experiencing a boon.
About 388 per cent more beef and veal was exported to China as of April 2019 compared with the same timeframe last year, and nearly 53 per cent more pork, according to Statistics Canada.
That amounts to roughly $63.6 million in beef and veal, and about $310.2 million in pork exports, according to the agency.
Last year, China was the second-largest market for pork exports, valued at $514.3 million and the fifth-largest for beef, valued at $97.3 million, according to the meat council.
"China is a very important market for Canadian producers," said the Canadian Pork Council in a statement. It is a federation of nine provincial pork industry associations that represent 7,000 farms.
The pork council noted the increase in sales to China so far this year "was reflected in higher prices for live hogs."
The government is taking the matter very seriously and an investigation is underway, International Trade Minister Jim Carr told reporters in Toronto while attending the Canada-India Partnership summit.
"It's too early to talk about that," Carr said, when asked about whether the government would offer any assistance to meat producers who are likely to struggle in the short-term.
"Obviously, we're looking at the situation over time and we want that time to be as short as possible," he said, adding that the government is trying to get to the bottom of the situation as fast as it can.
The CMC, Canadian Pork Council and Canada Pork International are working closely with government officials to understand the current situation and help identify next steps. The two councils said they are hopeful that because Canadian government officials and their Chinese counterparts have been in contact there will be a quick resolution.
"Demand for pork products remains strong in China and Canada producers look forward to having the opportunity to continue to meet the needs of our Chinese customers," said the pork council.