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News 281 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Viterra hampered by trade issues

International trade disputes currently hampering Canadian canola and flaxseed exports have had a negative impact on Viterra Inc., Canada's largest grain and oilseed handler, said Viterra representatives.

The current actions disrupting Canadian exports include Chinese restrictions on blackleg fungus in canola seed, European concerns about trace amounts of genetically modified seed in flaxseed shipments, and US restrictions on canola meal due to salmonella contamination issues.
 
Mayo Schmidt, Viterra's president and CEO, said the trade actions have negatively impacted Viterra, but added that the company has done "a tremendous job" in overcoming the disruptions.
 
Act like food company
Schmidt said one catalyst in helping Viterra move past trade barriers was the company's efforts to run all of its businesses, regardless of whether they are dealing with animal feed or food for human consumption, as though they are food operations. He added that safety and quality is of "paramount concern" to Viterra.
 
Schmidt said Viterra was also working with governments and trade groups to help solve the current trade issues and noted that "time will see these things worked out."
 
Viterra had accounted for up to 60% of the canola sales into China. While exports are currently hampered by the blackleg restrictions, Schmidt said Chinese demand can be very elastic, and Viterra's strong position in the country will be to its advantage when Chinese demand comes back.
 
European zero tolerance
With the flax issue to Europe the market came to "a standstill" following the discovery of genetically modified flax in Canadian shipments.
 
Movement was still not back to normal, but was getting closer to that point. Viterra said that small tolerances for the presence of GM seed would be helpful, as opposed to the current zero tolerance European policy.
 
 

Dick Ziggers

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