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Canadian pork industry presses China on ban

(Resource News International) Efforts are underway to reinstate pork exports to China from the Maple Leaf plant in
Brandon, Man., said an official with the Canadian Pork
Council.

“It was certainly a surprise that pork from Maple Leaf was
banned by China, given that a number of countries which have been
using the growth stimulant in question have been shipping pork
products to China for a number of years without any problems,”
said Martin Rice, executive director with the Canadian Pork Council, in a phone interview from Beijing, where the council has

been on a fact-finding/educational trade mission.

However, he also acknowledged China has stepped up its
inspections of pork products recently and the stimulant found
falls in a category of drugs with which the Chinese government has
had problems.

China banned the pork products after samples were found to
contain the feed additive ractopamine, typically sold in North America under
the name Paylean. Paylean was approved for use in Canada in 2006
and is approved in about 20 other countries, including the U.S., which approved Paylean’s use in 1999.

The drug has been banned in China since 2002.

“What has to happen is Canadian officials and other
exporting countries, need to meet with the appropriate Chinese
government representatives and through science convince them that
the stimulant is not harmful,” Rice said.

It would be through discussion that this issue will
be resolved, he said, and making threats and demands would not be the way to
approach this delicate matter.

“The pork products that were banned from the Maple Leaf

(packing plant) represent only a half per cent of the one per cent of our pork sales to
China,” said Jeanette Jones, director of communications for
Maple Leaf Foods.

The temporary ban only applies to pork products
from the company’s Brandon, Man., facility, she said. Pork products were
still being shipped to China from Maple Leaf’s processing
facilities in Alberta and Ontario.

“The issue over the use of the stimulant is an industry-wide
issue as it affects all Canadian pork processors,” Jones said.

As for efforts to remove the Chinese ban, Jones said the
federal government was leading the response and was managing
those discussions.

Jones indicated China has banned pork products from 10
U.S. plants and was also investigating 10 other U.S. exporters and
three Canadian exporters.

There was some question as to how the additive
was included in the pork destined for China, she said, given that testing
was done by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Officials from the CFIA were not immediately available for
comment.

Canadian processors have been trying to grab a

bigger foothold of the opportunities that exist in the country
for Canadian pork products, Rice said.

“There are some opportunities at present for increased
shipments, but the market will not be a Japan,” Rice said. While Japan is dependent on other countries for
its pork product needs, he said, China has been working hard and was
making progress in producing enough hogs to satisfy its own pork
needs.

Canadian pork product shipments to China have been primarily
offals, Rice said. Canada has not had an opportunity to sell a
lot of muscle meat, but given the price structure in China there
are expected to be opportunities there that have not existed in
the past.

Canadian pork product sales to China totalled 37,500 tonnes during calendar year 2004, 46,700 in 2005, and 43,900 in
2006. Through the month of April during 2007, sales of Canadian
pork to China totalled 13,700 tonnes, Rice said.

China is currently Canada’s sixth largest buyer of pork
products, Rice said.

The pork exported to China does not include shipments to
Hong Kong, which is considered a separate market, Rice said.
Pork product shipments to Hong Kong during the past three years
have ranged between 8,000 and 11,000 tonnes. Shipments during 2007
were expected to be in the 11,000-tonne range, Rice said.

Paylean (ractpopamine hydrochloride) is a feed ingredient
that increases the amount of quality meat in high-value cuts and
improves production efficiency. Paylean directs nutrients away
from fat deposition and toward lean deposition.

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