Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Canada urged to diversify ag export markets

Canadian agriculture ought to diversify its export markets, writes J.P. Gervais, chief agricultural economist for Farm Credit Canada.

Now 79 per cent of Canada’s agriculture and food exports go to the United States, magnifying the risks if anything goes wrong.

increasing food and beverage exports is still one of Canada’s biggest trade opportunities, he said, and diversification will reduce risks.

“When borders close for any number of reasons due to trade tensions or shock caused by disease or weather having a broader range of export markets allows Canadian exports to be re-allocated, rather than reduced,” FCC said in a news release.

The report examines several foods in particular and for pork, it said that beyond China, there are opportunities in Italy, France, Germany, Belgium and Poland. 

But there are some challenges with those markets, such as certifying that the pork is free of antimicrobials.

“If you break down all the barriers we have a very competitive pork product in Europe,” Gervais said.

For beef, China passed the U.S. last year to become the largest importer, so there are opportunities there and also in Europe and other Asian countries, Gervais said.

Because some of these markets are tough to crack, Gervais said Farm Credit Canada is helping smaller and medium sized companies to first grow exports to existing customers, Gervais said.

“Then afterwards I am convinced we can see some diversification given the efforts,” he said.

“Diversification almost always entails seeking markets that are further away and more expensive to develop,” the report says.