Japan places tender for Canadian wheat

Producers wondering whether the earthquake disaster in Japan would delay or halt grain exports to the country got an answer Tuesday as the Asian nation placed an order for high-protein Canadian wheat.

Maureen Fitzhenry, spokesperson for the Canadian Wheat Board in Winnipeg, said it appears to be business as usual with Japan, at least for the time being.

“It’s a very positive sign,” Fitzhenry said. “It is good to see that basically their first big purchase since the disaster is for high-quality Canadian wheat.”

The CWB has exported an average of 1.2 million tonnes of wheat (including durum) per year to Japan over the last 10 years. Fitzhenry said the board is anticipating this year’s exports will right in line with those in previous years.

“In the big picture, over the next couple of weeks, some issues will be congestion at ports and logistics of transportation” in Japan, she said.

“But looking at the crop year as a whole, we are fairly optimistic this won’t have an impact on our business with them.”

There are reports from Japan that a significant amount of farmland has been damaged or flooded in the earthquake and tsunami that followed.

Asked if that could lead to an increase in exports to the Asian nation, Fitzhenry said, “It’s hard to say, with everything so uncertain. If the Canadian government pledges food aid, we could work with them to export a large amount of product to Japan as part of aid efforts, but nothing is certain right now.”

According to Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the tender is for 32,381 tonnes of western red spring wheat.

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