Canada: beyond maple syrup

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GUESTS eagerly tried out the beef dishes at a Canadian Wine and Beef Night at the New World Hotel in Makati on Nov. 22.

CANADA isn’t all about maple syrup. Aside from its booming industries in all fields, a certain source of pride are its agricultural products, including beef.

BusinessWorld went to a Canadian Wine and Beef Night at the New World Hotel in Makati, hosted by the Embassy of Canada and Canada Beef International Institute. There was a cooking demo by chef Sandy Daza and Canadian chef Mathieu Pare, along with a spread of Canadian-Chinese dishes, steak, roast beef, and a bistek Tagalog by Mr. Daza. Pillitteri Estates winery, meanwhile, enticed guests with Canadian Ice Wine.

After dinner, we caught up with Senior Trade Commissioner for the Embassy of Canada, Crista McInnis. According to her, the Philippines is one of Canada’s most important markets for agricultural exports, particularly in cereals, chicken, pork, and beef.

“As incomes grow in the Philippines, there’s an interest in different sources of protein,” she said, citing beef as one. This is compounded by the fact of the low levels of domestic beef production in the Philippines. “Certainly, from our perspective, we’ve seen the retailers who are already importing Canadian beef.”

According to her, the sectors that consume the most Canadian beef are in the food service sector (as in hotels and restaurants) and increasing volume in retail (as in supermarkets). “Manufacturing, not as much, but that is an area where we also want to see future growth.”

Canada is the world’s largest producer of lentils, and it’s a surprise that it isn’t as largely promoted here. Ms. McInnis credits this to a country with a present staple, rice, and says, “For the Philippines, we’d be very interested in exploring what type of opportunities there might be to bring lentils here,” but then, it isn’t really a “commodity that is really sought after here.”

According to her, a market that has potential in this country are processed foods, like snacks and the like. She is particularly excited about a product that they are bringing in: Vachon cakes from Quebec. It’s a brand of snack cakes, with one of her particular favorites being the Jos Louis filled variety.

“This is just personally interesting to me. I don’t know from a trade perspective if it’s interesting,” she said with laughter, recalling that she liked them as a young girl. The cakes will be coming here in January of next year, according to Ms. McInnis. — JLG