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Alberta beef and pork producers hope new deal with China will pay big dividends

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WATCH ABOVE: A pillar of Alberta's economy is about to get greater access to one of the world's largest marketplaces. Tom Vernon explains how beef producers can now ship more of their product into China – Dec 11, 2017

A pillar of Alberta’s economy is getting greater access into one of the world’s largest marketplaces. China is loosening restrictions on Canadian beef and pork, allowing producers to export bone in beef cuts and fresh chilled meat into the country.

READ MORE: China imposes temporary trade restrictions on beef imports from Canada

“Up to this point, anything we’ve shipped to China has had to have been frozen and boneless,” said John Masswohl, the director of Government and International Relations with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

“It gives us a lot more options.”

The increased access is expected to boost exports of pork products by $100 million over the next five years, and $125 million for beef producers over the same time frame.

READ MORE: Cattle prices drop by nearly half from last year

For beef producers like Colin Campbell, the potential new customers mean more stability for the entire industry.

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“When you have a greater variety of markets, your price stabilizes,” Campbell told Global News on his farm just north of Edmonton.

“The value that is realized over and above our domestic markets is in the excess of $500 per carcass.”

The majority of Canada’s beef is produced in Alberta, and the government has made expanding markets into China a priority.

READ MORE: Alberta’s agriculture minister travelling to Asia to seek new trade 

“We’ve had a number of trade delegations to China, and we’ve received a number of delegations,” Alberta Trade Minister Deron Bilous said.

The province has nine trade offices throughout Asia.

Bilous says the goal is to ensure Alberta businesses have every opportunity to succeed in the rapidly growing region.

“Working with international airports, like Edmonton International, to expand their ability to ship products overseas into the Asian market.”