(ATF) France could export more wheat to China if its quality was higher and it strengthened health checks, a leading Chinese food company said on Wednesday.
Sun Wei, deputy general manager wheat at China Foods Limited – formerly known as COFCO International – told Reuters that French wheat exports to China reached a record high of 2.5 million tonnes in 2020.
“To further develop the Chinese market, we are encouraging the French sector to produce high and medium quality wheat for export and thus meet the Chinese need,” he said during a seminar organised by export promotion group France Export Céréales (FEC).
“We want our French partners to know more deeply the needs and expectations of Chinese customers,” Sun said in a video message, suggesting more technical exchanges between the two countries.
He urged a renewed focus on "phytosanitary checks" to ensure that the crop's international transport did not spread diseases and insects that could negatively affect plants or ecosystems in China.
France has shipped nearly 1.6 million tonnes of wheat to China since July, according to Thierry de Boussac, commercial director of the Chartres-based grain dealer Lecureur Semences.
French wheat exports to China in 2020/21 could surpass last season’s large volume as France’s status as one of the few approved suppliers allowed it to capture robust Chinese demand, Lecureur Semences said on Wednesday.
The European country competes with Canada and Australia in the China export market.
Sun also urged French exporters to focus on grain quality. FEC acknowledged that bad weather in France, particularly heavy rains, had affected recent years' crops.
"The 2019/20 growing season had two defining characteristics: especially frequent and abundant rains during the autumn, then drought during the spring," an FEC report noted.
Lecureur Semences forecast that France could export another 1 million tonnes of wheat to China over the second half of the 2020/21 season.
China has increased its grain imports in recent months as it recovers from the coronavirus and swine fever epidemics.
Political tensions with Canberra have given agricultural export competitors an opportunity, although Australian grain is still getting through to China.
With reporting by Reuters