Canada Beef says the industry is ready to take advantage of increased opportunities now that Mexico has agreed to open its market to an expanded list of Canadian beef products. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa, announced that Mexico will fully re-open to Canadian beef effective October 1, 2016.
Officials with Canada Beef note that the decision will greatly increase the amount of product eligible for export to Mexico and sets an important precedent for market access conditions in other markets around the world.
“Our loyal Canadian brand partners in Mexico will now have a more diversified offering of our world class protein,” said Rob Meijer, President of Canada Beef, in a news release. “This decision will provide enhanced product offerings in foodservice, retail, quick serve, casual dining and other end use segments.”
Mexico closed to Canadian beef in May 2003 when Canada discovered its first domestic case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Mexico re-opened to beef from cattle under-30-months (UTM) of age later that year, but remained closed to beef from over-30-month (OTM) cattle and some UTM offal.
Dan Darling, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, in Ottawa for President Peña’s announcement on June 28, said the October 1 effective date is particularly important in terms of timing as it provides producers with an expanded export opportunity for (OTM) beef.
“The months of October and November are traditionally the time of year when Canadian beef farmers send most of their mature breeding cows to market,” Darling said. “Mexico has traditionally been an excellent market for Canadian beef. In addition to expanded access for OTM beef, we look forward to potential future opportunities that today’s announcement of fully restored access for Canada for all beef and beef products, regardless of the age of the cattle, will bring.”
Normalized access with Mexico marks the removal of one of the few remaining BSE trade restrictions in the world and that will help instill confidence in Canadian beef producers to grow their herds, Darling said. “When our production increases to previous levels, I believe that Mexico could again import more than $250 million per year like it used to.”
Prior to BSE, Canada was exporting between $270 million to $290 million of beef per year to Mexico, of which approximately 20 to 25 per cent was OTM.
As its third largest export customer, the Canadian beef and veal industry highly values the Mexican market. Last year, Canadian beef shipments to Mexico reached 19,400 tonnes, valued at $155 million.
The expanded import requirements will likely lead to a modest increase in exports to Mexico, but also sends an important message to other markets affirming the quality and safety of Canadian beef.
“Canada Beef is already well-positioned and aligned with brand partners to take advantage of the newly expanded market access. We want to thank the Mexican Government as well for this decision as it sends a clear signal that Canada and Mexico are partners in trade at the highest levels,” added Meijer.
Canada Beef is the cattle producer-funded and run organization responsible for domestic and international beef and veal market development.