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November 20, 2009

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F&B firms see no trade woes

FOREIGN food and beverage exporters are not worried that trade disputes between China and other countries will spread to the sector and they remain optimistic in China's imported food market over the long term.

"We hope not to have trade conflicts in the food sector," said Mike Bellamy, a trader in United States dairy exports to China, at the FHC China 2009 yesterday. "The agriculture (sector) is so important to the United States and China is a huge market."

The US Dairy Association was among 825 companies from 60 countries and regions including 27 national pavilions that attended FHC China in Shanghai yesterday. A record 14 country groups are taking part in the premier food, wine and hospitality exhibition for the first time this year.

During the three-day event, international companies and importers are showing off food and beverages such as wines, olive oils, snacks and cheese as they seek to expand their business in the Chinese market.

Canada, which has stayed away since 2003, is one of them as it is eager to resume beef exports to China.

"China is important for our industry," said Ted Haney, president of Canada Beef Export Federation. "Without China, we can't create value in our industry such as more money for cattle, more jobs for processing and more markets for Canadian cattle."

The federation forecast China will become one of Canada's top five markets within five years after China re-opens its market to beef imports. "Canada will send 9,000 tons of beef to China, valued at C$40 million (US$37.7 million) by then," Haney said.

Despite the global financial crisis the FHC China 2009 has received more bookings and a wider range of food and beverages are being displayed this year thanks to growing appetite for imported food.

Li Zhe from Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Corp in Shanghai said South Korea exports US$50 million of food to China annually and the growth in the market is faster than in the US.


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