Senior representatives from Japanese tofu processing companies are spending six days in Canada to learn more about the quality of Canadian food grade soybeans and the industry that is committed to delivering a safe, high-quality product to suit the processing requirements of Japanese consumers.
The 5th CSC Japan-Canada Soybean Program, running from September 9 to 14, 2012, is sponsored by the Canadian Soybean Council (CSC) and coordinated by Cigi. The 11 participants, who represent small- to medium-sized tofu processing companies, were nominated by Japan’s National Federation of Tofu Commerce and Trade to attend the program. The Federation consists of nearly 3,000 members representing more than 60 percent of tofu processors in Japan. In addition, Mr. Tsuneto Sasaki , trade commissioner with the Canadian embassy in Tokyo, and two representatives from the Canadian Grain Commission are attending.
One of the participants is Mr. Jinichi Uemura, director of Uermura Shoten Co. Ltd. in Sendai, Miyagi, whose business was affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Tofu companies in the affected areas such as Uermura Shoten Co. Ltd required an emergency supply of soybeans. Other National Federation member companies donated container trucks which delivered food grade soybeans originating from Canada to Miyagi Prefecture several days after the earthquake. For some of the processors this was the first time that they used Canadian soybeans and were surprised by the quality. Mr. Uemura’s first visit to Canada will offer him an opportunity to learn more about the soybean industry first-hand.
“Participants such as Mr. Uemura will be able to see the full value circle of how soybeans are produced in Canada and the quality parameters we have in place to ensure we are delivering the product they are looking for,” says Nicole MacKellar, Market Development Co-ordinator for the Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO), one of three members of the CSC. Japan is Canada’s largest market for food-grade soybean and in 2010-11 imported nearly 344,000 tonnes.
“This is an excellent opportunity for Canada’s soybean industry to demonstrate to these companies how they produce quality soybeans that fit the processing characteristics they require for tofu production,” adds Dr. Linda Malcolmson, Cigi’s Manager of Special Crops, Oilseeds and Pulses.
After arriving in Winnipeg the group visited a farm, followed by sessions at Cigi where they learned about the quality of Canadian soybeans through presentations that include the Canadian Identity Preserved Recognition System and soybean inspection and grading. The group then departs later today for Quebec and Ontario where they will visit farms, soybean handling and processing facilities, breeding and research facilities, and Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show. The participants will also meet with representatives from government, grower, and industry organizations.
The CSC was founded by the Manitoba Pulse Growers Association, la Fédération des producteurs cultures commerciales du Québec, and the GFO, who are committed to working together to promote high-value, traceable, safe and quality assured Canadian soybeans in global markets.
Listen here to Dr. Linda Malcolmson interviewed by Prairie Ag Wire host Kelvin Heppner about the soybean program, aired September 6, 2012 on Golden West Radio. (Segment provided courtesy of Golden West Radio.)