U.S. companies exporting pork, beef and lamb to Canada now face simpler and clearer requirements, thanks to a joint initiative undertaken by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and its counterpart, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Cheyenne McEndaffer, U.S. Meat Export Federation director of export services, explains that the revised regulations will benefit both U.S. exporters and their customers north of the border.
"The Safe Food for Canadians regulation was a major food safety regulation overhaul undertaken in Canada over a number of years and the goal was to bring all the different food safety regulations in to one regulation. FSIS and CFIA, the food safety authority of Canada, initiated this comprehensive review of the export requirements for U.S. meat products into Canada to make sure the requirements were up to date and also to make the export library more user friendly," McEndaffer says. "There will be some benefits for U.S. exporters, nothing major in regard to a high-level market access expansion, but there is some further alignment of labeling requirements, access for ozone treated and artificially colored products."
McEndaffer says the biggest change is clarity.
"The export library for Canada prior to this was about 32 pages long and it was a huge, mass of information that any new or even existing exporters really had to wade through to figure out what they needed to do to export to this market," McEndaffer says. "That has been reduced to about 12 pages."
She notes that FSIS gathered input from USMEF and other industry associations during its review of the export requirements, which allowed problematic issues to be identified and addressed.
"FSIS has reached out to various industry associations, including USMEF, to review the export library and provide feedback on onerous requirements and where we saw areas that needed to be clarified based on an understanding of new or updated Canadian regulations and that hopefully provided a baseline of information that FSIS used in their discussions with CFIA," McEndaffer says "We really applaud FSIS for their inclusion of industry in this discussion and also making this project happen and be completed with CFIA over the past couple of years."
Red meat exports to Canada are off to a fast start in 2020. Through February, pork exports were 18% ahead of last year's pace at 37,364 metric tons, valued at $128.8 million (up 14%). Beef exports totaled 18,603 metric tons valued at $112.9 million – up 17% and 15%, respectively, from a year ago.