by SUSAN MANN
The appointment of a new Beijing-based agri-food trade adviser for Ontario later this spring is good news, says Beef Farmers of Ontario spokesperson LeaAnne Wuermli.
The government’s exploration of new market opportunities is good “for our farmers,” she adds, noting Beef Farmers of Ontario is currently working on a project to expand the provincial cowherd by 100,000 head over the long term based on increasing production in Northern Ontario. “We’ve identified there will be an increase in demand for high-quality proteins globally as wealth and incomes grow. We’re very focused on looking at ways to expand our cow herd so we can meet that supply for both domestic and global demand.”
Ontario’s Chinese trade adviser, to be in place by June 1, will help the province’s agri-food sector expand into the Chinese market, Ontario Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal and Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade Minister Michael Chan announced in a press release Wednesday from China. The two ministers are leading an Ontario agri-food trade mission to the country that wraps up Saturday.
The agri-food trade mission is part of Ontario’s plan to meet Premier Kathleen Wynne’s agri-food growth challenge for the sector to double its growth rate and create 120,000 new jobs by 2020.
Leal and Chan say the new trade adviser will help Ontario exporters connect with Chinese buyers, sales brokers, distributors, agents and importers. China is currently Ontario’s second largest export market after the United States. In 2014, total agri-food sales to China, including Hong Kong, were $832 million.
The new trade adviser will open up even more opportunities for Ontario farmers in the Chinese market by providing them with strategic advice and guidance, according to the April 22 news release. The person will be a seasoned food industry professional with business experience in global markets, the release says.
Agriculture ministry spokesperson Christina Crowley-Arklie says by email up to $250,000 will be allocated for the position with funding coming from Growing Forward 2, the national agriculture policy framework.
The position will be filled “through a competitive procurement process,” she says.
Ontario currently has two agri-food trade advisers in the United States coving the northeast and central portions of the country. The Chinese trade adviser will be similar to the U.S. ones.
Ontario also has two international marketing centres in China to promote the province’s investment and business opportunities. The centres help to bolster Ontario’s trade and investment presence in China and serve all sectors of the economy. But the trade adviser will work to open new markets in China for just Ontario agri-food businesses and organizations, she says. BF