Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Canadians buying America’s best foods

Canadians are the best foreign customers for high-value U.S. foods, says a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

And that, says Meatingplace Magazine, makes those exports a prime target if the World Trade Organization rules that Canada is justified in complaining about the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations that have depressed Canadian hog and cattle prices by a combined total of more than $1.6 billion per year.

If the U.S. fails to scrap the offensive COOL provisions after WTO rules them illegal, as it did for an earlier version of COOL, then Canada could seek permission to apply tariffs to U.S. exports.

The report says Canada remained the top destination for “U.S. exports of high value agricultural products, with a total of nearly $17 billion” last year.

The category includes meat, fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, prepared food, snack food, wine and beer, and pet food. Those are items Canada has already included on a list to which it would apply tariffs if it wins at the WTO.

These U.S. consumer-oriented products typically sell directly from small and medium-sized U.S. processors to Canadian supermarkets and restaurants, says the report.

Overall, Canada is the second-largest export destination for U.S. agricultural products, totaling $21.3 billion in 2013.

Canada follows China, the first export market since 2010, which bought $25.9 billion worth of U.S. agricultural exports.

“It is also interesting to point out that overall U.S. exports of agricultural products grew by two percent from 2012 to 2013, totaling $144.1 billion.

“During the same time period, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada grew by 3.4 percent, while U.S. exports to China remained flat (0.1 percent growth rate),” the report says.