"What China needs is exactly what we have" ——Interview with Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-F

On November 16, Excellency Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food of Canada, led a high-profile trade delegation to visit Guangzhou and cordially met with Mr. Qi Yilong, President of the Guangdong Imported Food Association and his entourage.


The two sides had in-depth exchanges on such issues as the development prospects of Canadian imported foods in the China market and future cooperation opportunities between the two countries. After the meeting, Excellency MacAulay accepted an exclusive interview with FOOD TO CHINA.

According to Minister MacAulay, China's imported food market has become increasingly mature andopen. Chinese consumers not only have more choices for the varieties, but also put higher requirements on the quality of imported foods. Canadian foods have been known for its rigorous safety and quality control. MacAulay hopes to, taking the opportunity of his visit, let more Chinese consumers understand Canadian foods and give Canadian food manufacturers and distributors a deeper understanding of Chinese consumers' needs. "What China needs are exactly what we have," said Excellency MacAulay. Canada as an exporter must make sure that its products cater to Chinese consumers tastes. In the face of an increasingly fierce competitive environment for China's imported food market and powerful competitors like the United States, Minister Macaulay said that Canada had well prepared for any competition or challenge.
 
What’s the purpose of your visit to Guangzhou this time?
I’m leading a trade mission of Canadian business people, agricultural business people from Canada to China. We are, in Guangzhou, holding an export cafe and meeting a lot of different business people, basically to help to make sure that Chinese people understand what good-quality, safe food we have for sale in Canada and available to the Chinese consumer.
 
How about the size and composition of the delegation this time?
(Of course) It’s various businesses like we have the pork business, the beef industry, the canola industry. We had a lot of different industries. The reason for that is to make sure the different importers in China have the opportunity to meet those people. If you talk about beef industry or pork industry, your consumer is also quite interested in how the product is raised, if it’s farm animal and very humanly handled. We make sure they understand that how the animal is handled from the time when it’s born until it arrives on your plate.
 
Last year, you also led the biggest Canadian delegation t o China . What kind of achievements did you make since then?
Well, of course, the achievements, just for one example, go to one of your largest food supermarkets here in China. We see that there are a number of Canadian products available in that store and promoted in a very, very good way. That’s so important because Chinese consumer fully understands that if Canada certifies a food to be exported, it is safe. It is very safe to eat. Again, the consumer wants that to make sure it’s good quality and also very safe to eat. What I saw here, it certainly is that way. But of course you have the commerce export delivery system which is also much different. We have to be fully aware and available to adopt that to make sure that we are able to supply that market too. We can and will.



Thank you. What kind of achievements are you expecting during this visit?

Well, of course we exported frozen beef into this country and we fully hope to export chill beef into this country, but all this takes a process. While meeting with Chairman Xi and Minister Han, we discussed these issues too. We have indicated previously top quality, very humanly raised beef.


You talk about our beef cattle, wide open ranges, grasslands, crystal clear water. I think I know that Chinese consumer wants to see that. When you look at lobster, for one example, to show that it’s fished in crystal clean and clear water, environmentally friendly, and processed in an appropriate manner, or even summer shift here alive and summer shift processed to make sure the consumer… you have a very sophisticated consumer. They want to know that the product is safe. They want to know how it was raised and how it was manufactured. We are making sure that we have the people with us can explain to Chinese importers just exactly that. We had a great success last year and we expect even more success this year.


 
F2C: According to your knowledge, what kind of agricultural products from Canada is now popular in China?
There is no question that canola is a big export. We exported over 2 billion dollars of canola to China. When you look at the stores, you see some people are interested and the canola oil is there. It’s much healthier to use and again the Chinese consumer is well aware of that. But there are also some other products, and we see them in the store. We understand that they are there but we want more. You want more products then we can produce more products. We will ship more product in the way that you want the product.
 
For example, what kind of product would you recommend?

To ship to here? Well, pretty nearly anything. It’s important for our exporters to understand and to deal with your importers that we export the product in the way that the Chinese consumer wants it. It has to be that way. Sometimes, the Chinese consumer may want a little different than the Canadian consumer. If we want to sell it to the Chinese consumer, we must prepare it in the way that the Chinese consumer wants it. As I indicated previously, they have to know it’s safe. They have to know how the animals are raised and everything is environmentally friendly. Again, you have a very sophisticated consumer that wants to know all these issues.


That’s our responsibility to do that, and that’s part of why we are here too to make sure that we do that. It’s obvious that we are making progress. But you have a large population, and you have a large part of your population entering the middleclass every year. This population wants to eat, like you and I eat this morning. We have the product, and we want to make sure that your consumer knows that we have the product. That’s basically what we are doing.
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