A custom slaughter and processing plant based in Lacombe is one of four Canadian beef facilities recently added to the roster of outfits able to export beef to China.
Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Ed Fast have announced that Canadian Premium Meats Inc., along with Les Viandes Laroche Inc., Ryding Regency Meat Packers Ltd. and St. Helen’s Meat Packers Ltd., are now approved for export by China. In 2011, China and Canada reached an agreement to allow Canadian deboned beef from animals under 30 months of age to be imported.
Part owner of Canadian Premium Meats Werner Siegrist, said his company has been getting a lot of reaction from customers and potential new clients about the news. “It seems to excite a lot of people,” he said. Siegrist said the plant is already certified to export their customers’ products to a number of countries, including the European Union, the United States, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam. He said about 60 per cent of the products leaving their facility are for export.
Now they can add China to the list. “It’s definitely one of the most exciting and most important approvals for us besides the EU,” he said. They applied back in 2011 and Chinese authorities visited their premises in March 2012. “It’s one of those export countries a lot of our customers and potentially new customers were waiting for,” he said.
According to a press release from Agriculture Canada, the Chinese market for Canadian beef is estimated to be worth about $20 million annually, with the expectation of it growing to $110 million once there is full market access. Siegrist isn’t sure how much the China export approval will impact business at the plant. “Time will tell,” he said. “I’m sure something will come out of it and I’m sure we’re going to ship some product over to China but how much we don’t know yet.”