December 19, 2011

Europe opens new rapeseed market


In Europe, a new market for rapeseed growers is emerging, according to an officer from Control Union, a Dutch firm that certifies supply chains for products imported into Europe.

While Canadian rapeseed has been shut out of Europe's food chain because of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the burgeoning biofuel sector can be open to rapeseed oil, said Bas Verkerk, managing director of Control Union Canada inc.

"Products for the use of fuel do not have the same type of concerns around GMOs because it doesn't go into animal or human food supplies," he said.

Control Union certifies the supply chain from producer to the end user to make sure they meet European regulations regarding sustainability and safety.

Verkerk said there will be more and more rapeseed oil being shipped to Europe to meet the demand for biofuels.

"They don't have enough domestic product to convert into fuels so they have to import products from around the world," he said. "At the same time the European Union has stated that whatever is imported needs to be certified sustainable. In order to verify that they have allowed several programs to be run under their approval and we, as third-party certifiers, can be doing that inspection work."

And as European targets for biofuels increase, the need for more products like rapeseed oil will increase.

Verkerk said current European targets are 4% of renewable energies blended into gasoline and diesel. By 2020 those targets will be 10%.

"So there is huge gap to fill," he said. "Whether it is coming from Canada, South America or Asia, it needs to be filled. Canada is one of the easiest access points for filling this gap because there are so many regulations in place to issue sustainability certificates."

He said Canadian farmers have an edge because they are already practising sustainable farming.

Jodi Holzman, Control Union's auditor/marketer for Saskatchewan, added this is a new market for Canadian farmers to exploit.

"This is a new market that we have been shut out of for so long because of the food and GMO issue," she said. "In Saskatchewan there are quite a few farmer owned grain terminals that may want to look into this opportunity and have access to a new market that did not exist before."

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