Beef, veal exports seen climbing in 2009

(Resource News International) — Canadian beef and veal exports are forecast to rise above 400,000 tonnes in 2009, with increased sales expected to Canada’s three largest destinations, according to the Canadian Beef Export Federation’s (CBEF) biannual Environmental Scan released March 11.

Canadian beef and veal exports this year are forecast to total 429,400 tonnes, worth an estimated $1.507 billion, according to the CBEF. That compares with 392,861 tonnes in 2008, 362,810 in 2007 and 521,467 tonnes in 2002, one year before the confirmation of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in an Alberta cow shut Canada out of most international markets.

Exports to the U.S. for 2009 are forecast to total 311,000 tonnes, up from 294,843 in 2008. Mexico, the second largest Canadian beef and veal market, is forecast to purchase 54,000 tonnes, up from 46,949 tonnes last year and exports to Hong Kong, Canada’s third key market, have been pegged at 19,900 tonnes, compared to 17,675 tonnes in 2008.

Other key Canadian markets this year will include Japan, at an estimated 7,400 tonnes, up from 5,391 last year, Taiwan, expected to import 2,400 tonnes, down from 2,882 in 2008 and Russia, which the CBEF estimates will import 10,000 tonnes in 2009, nearly two times as much as the 5,051 tonnes imported in 2008.

A goal for the Canadian beef industry will be the opening of the key South Korean market, which prior to the 2003 BSE crisis was Canada’s third largest export destination at 17,000 tonnes, worth an estimated $60 million.

A March 20 CBEF release commenting on Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz’s trade mission to Seoul, South Korea said it is the federation’s belief that trade in Canadian beef will resume only if WTO dispute settlement consultations are initiated by Canada.

“In this light, the federation believes that Canada must proceed to initiate the consultations — a process that can be halted should Korea agree to the resumption of trade. Canada’s strategy must be dedicated to the goal of resuming trade in all edible beef and veal products derived from cattle less than 30 months of age in the spring of 2009.”

China, which had been a growing market prior to 2003, also remains closed to Canadian beef and veal and according to CBEF president Ted Haney there is currently no information that the market will open within any defined period of time.

Looking ahead to 2010, the CBEF pegged total beef and veal exports at 456,000 tonnes, worth an estimated $1.613 billion. The US is forecast to import 305,000 tonnes, Mexico 59,000 tonnes, Hong Kong 21,000 tonnes, Japan 13,000 tonnes, Taiwan 4,000 tonnes and 15,000 tonnes in 2010.

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