Following a visit to Beijing where he met with authorities from China's Ministry of Agriculture and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, Canada’s Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz noted that government and industry officials in China are in favor of increasing imports of Canada's agricultural products, which are considered to be of exceptional quality. Export to China by Canadian farmers in 2012 totaled C$5 billion, and agreements reached between Canada and China is likely to see this figure increase significantly in the coming years.
Canadian beef and related products were high on the agenda for discussion and China seeks to increase imports of both beef and tallow. As a rendered form of beef or mutton fat, or both, tallow has an extended shelf life provided it remains airtight. Tallow can be used for a wide range of purposes, including as a food additive, a biodiesel product, and as an ingredient in soap. China imported deboned Canadian beef to the value of more than C$10 million in 2012 and it is anticipated that the market for beef and tallow will increase to around C$110 million per annum.
Two agreements were signed during Ritz's visit to China – a Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment of a working group dedicated to animal health, as well as an Agreement on Grains and Oilseeds to ensure stable and long-term access for the export of Canadian wheat, soybeans and barley to China. Moreover, new market access provides for the export of fresh cherries from British Columbia to China with estimates being that the sales value of fresh cherries will reach C$10 million by 2014, with the potential to increase to C$20 million over five years. An agreement for the export of British Columbia's blueberries to China is under consideration.
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