The executive director of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture says China’s decision to halt all meat imports from Canada could create an oversupply of meat in Canada and depress prices for beef and pork on P.E.I.

According to Chinese officials, the ban was brought into place after customs authorities there discovered residue of the banned additive ractopamine in a batch of pork products exported from Canada to China.

“The price is decent right now for hogs, but I think the expectation was that the price would go up considerably,” said Robert Godfrey, executive director of the federation, noting that price bump is now in doubt.

Godfrey said P.E.I. hog producers had been expecting the price jump in part because African swine fever in China has meant the loss of hundreds of thousands of pigs there.

“I really thought that would bring prices up in that part of the world.”

He also said that the beef industry looks to Asia as an opportunity to expand the market.

“If beef in Western Canada, for example, is not going to China then it’s going somewhere else … whether it’s domestically or into the U.S. or wherever else.”

Godfrey said if an oversupply of beef in Canada can affect the price on P.E.I. “It’s just simple supply and demand.”

Beef plant not concerned

Atlantic Beef Products president Russ Mallard said the beef processing plant in Albany, P.E.I., won’t be directly affected by China’s halt of Canadian meat imports.

“We are not currently shipping anything into China,” Mallard said.

“There may be some significant issues short term for the beef production companies that are in Western Canada primarily who ship over to China.”

The federal minister of agriculture calls China’s decision to halt all meat imports from Canada a “temporary ban.”

Mallard echoed Godfrey — he said if the market becomes oversaturated with beef that was intended for China it could affect beef prices across the country.

Ractopamine ‘not part of regime here’

Mallard said the plant had been looking at shipping to China and met all the approvals by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, but said there was a “significant backlog” of processors looking to be approved by China.

When Chinese authorities advised Canada of the finding of ractopamine on June 14, it raised a red flag for the CFIA and when the organization investigated the certificate for the meat it was determined to be inauthentic.

Mallard said ractopamine is not used in Atlantic Canada to the best of his knowledge.

“It’s not part of the regime here.”

However, he noted ractopamine is legal for use within Canada and the United States.