Mexico reopens to all Canadian beef

Mexico reopens to all Canadian beef

Beef and beef products from Canadian cattle of all ages may again be shipped to Mexico under newly expanded access announced Friday.

The announcement from Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay, on his first official visit to Mexico, follows up on a joint statement in June that Mexico was in the “final stages of due diligence” to reopen its ports to all Canadian beef effective Oct. 1.

Canadian industry groups have projected the expanded access for beef to Mexico will lead to “incremental” sales valued at $10 million per year, and total annual sales of beef to Mexico could “eventually” rise above $200 million, the government said.

Mexico, along with many other export markets, shut its ports to Canadian beef in May 2003, when Canada found its first domestic case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Mexico re-opened to beef from cattle under 30 months old (UTMs) in August 2003, and to bone-in beef from UTMs in February 2006. Until now, however, the Mexican border has been closed to Canadian beef from cattle over 30 months old (OTMs) as well as ground meat and some specialty meats and UTM offal.

Joe Reda, president of the Canadian Meat Council, said Friday he was “very pleased it was possible for the Canadian government to complete on schedule the technical negotiations that were required for the full resumption of normalized trade.”

The expanded access, the government said, is consistent with recommendations from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on the safety of beef exports from countries such as Canada that are deemed to be at “controlled risk” for BSE.

Since Canada’s approval of new export certificates for certain Mexican beef packers in 2014, Mexico’s latest move “will allow for open trade in beef, and beef products throughout North America,” the government added.

Mexico, Reda said in the government’s release, has “consistently been a top-tier destination for the export of Canadian beef products.”

According to Statistics Canada, fresh boneless UTM beef was Canada’s third-highest-grossing agrifood export to Mexico in 2015, valued at $101.2 million, behind canola seed ($746.6 million) and wheat ($260.7 million) and ahead of refined canola oil ($69.4 million) and fresh pork ($46.1 million).

From Canadian producers’ perspective, the expanded access for OTM beef is seen as well timed, as they often ship older cull cows to market during the back end of the fall run.

MacAulay, in Friday’s release, also described the move as “an important milestone which underscores the strength of our bilateral agricultural trade relationship with Mexico.” — Network

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