Argentina pledges access for Canadian pork

Canada and Argentina are in late-stage talks that would see Canadian pork exporters regain access to that South American market.

Following a meeting between Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the federal government last Friday said the two countries have “acknowledged the necessary steps to complete the process to allow for the export of pork meat and live swine from Canada to Argentina.”

The “final step remaining” in the approval process will be a visit to Canada by Argentinian food safety officials, to audit Canada’s meat inspection system, according to the Canadian Meat Council.

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According to the CMC, Argentina is a sought-after market as one of the biggest animal protein-consuming nations, at 115 kg per capita.

Pork, at 14 to 15 kg per capita, is a “comparatively limited proportion” of animal protein consumption in Argentina compared to beef and chicken, the CMC said, but noted Argentina’s agriculture ministry forecasts pork consumption to double over the 10 years from 2010 to 2020.

Canadian pork processors entered the Argentine market in 1998, but according to Cesar Urias, director of market access for Canada Pork International (CPI), speaking on the Canadian pork industry program Farmscape, Argentina suspended Canadian processors’ export eligibility starting in 2002.

According to the Canadian Pork Council, the Canadian product ran afoul of a number of Argentina’s import requirements, citing, for example, Canadian hog producers’ use of ractopamine, a beta-agonist growth promotant, as a feed additive.

According to Urias, CPI asked the federal government in about 2011-12 to approach Argentine authorities on restoring access, to “work around this technical restriction on our plants.”

Once the market reopens, the CPC expects to sell about $16 million in higher-end pork cuts into Argentina in the first year. Urias said on Farmscape that figure could run up to $30 million “depending on domestic demand,” and volumes could range from 2,500 to 4,000 tonnes.

“This is variable, obviously, because there’s still strong competition from the Brazilians in Argentina, but we believe we do have a product that is suitable for Argentinean needs,” he said.

The federal government last week also acknowledged the opening of the Canadian market to Argentine beef earlier this year, and “positive work” by Canadian and Argentine technical authorities to arrange access for Argentine poultry meat in the Canadian market. — AGCanada.com Network

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