Beef exports regaining markets lost to BSE

(Resource News International) — Exports of Canadian beef and veal during calendar 2010 will be up from the level shipped during 2009, according to an official with the Canada Beef Export Federation.

However, the amount of Canadian beef and veal exported could be higher had it not been for the heavy restrictions that remain on Canadian beef, implemented by some countries as a result of BSE in 2003.

Canada’s beef and veal exports in 2010 are expected to reach 420,700 tonnes, compared to 378,499 in 2009, according to a report released by the CBEF. The report also speculates total exports will rise to 437,000 in 2015 and to 450,000 in 2020.

Canadian beef’s main export destination is the U.S., but the CBEF report forecasts a downturn in U.S. import numbers.

“Our members believe there will be somewhat better access to markets outside of the U.S.,” CBEF president Ted Haney said.

“Our industry is continually looking to moderate our level of dependence on the U.S. market. It appears that our industry is, long-term, looking to reduce our level of dependency.”

The CBEF report predicts 306,000 tonnes will be exported to the U.S. by the end of 2010, but that number will drop to 300,000 in 2015 and to 292,000 in 2020.

Despite export numbers to the U.S. dropping, overall exports of beef and veal from Canada are expected to keep rising due to trade restrictions between countries being resolved, and markets accepting Canadian beef products and re-entering the industry.

“Overall to the world we’ve seen (strengthening) in Asia and Mexico… with some fallback in smaller markets, particularly in Southeast Asia, and that has been because of relatively strong currency and stable consumer markets in Asia and in Mexico,” said Haney.

Japan was one of the countries which closed imports to Canadian beef in 2003. In 2006, the country re-opened its doors and by the end of 2010 it’s expected to import 13,900 tonnes, compared to 10,277 from 2009, said the CBEF report.

Taiwan also closed imports to Canadian beef in 2003, but started to accept the product again in 2007. The CBEF expects 3,100 tonnes will be exported to Taiwan by the end of 2010, compared to 2,905 from 2009.

The CBEF report showed mainland China still does not import Canadian beef, but it speculates in 2015 that 3,000 tonnes will be exported there, compared to 2,651 in 2002. Also, the report notes South Korea did not import Canadian beef until this year; the CBEF expects 2,100 tonnes to be shipped there by the end of 2010.

BSE “has definitely put an economic strain on our industry, along with high feed prices and high Canadian dollar,” said Haney.

“Now, we are seeing a full normalization of trade with Russia (and) we believe over this next year we will likely see a normalization of trade with Mexico… that will provide us very specific relief,” he said.

The CBEF predicts 54,200 tonnes will be exported to Mexico by the end of 2010, compared to 44,867 from 2009. The report did not include an individualized number for Russia, but Haney said it’s expected Russian imports of Canadian beef and veal will be the second largest ever.

“BSE is still very much with us; it’s still very much expressing itself as a trade restriction. So for us it’s an economic disease,” said Haney, adding that in 2005 Canadian producers had 5.2 million head of cattle, compared to an estimated 4.2 million in 2010 due to BSE, high feed prices and the strong Canadian dollar.

If producers are not certain where their herd is going, they will in turn reduce their numbers, he said.

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