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Canada aims for organic food niche in Taiwan

TAIPEI -- Canada is hoping to develop a niche market in Taiwan for certain types of organic food products, a Canadian envoy said yesterday.

To this end, Canadian organic products such as maple syrup, soy milk, oats and jellies are being promoted at an exhibition in Taipei, in partnership with the local retail chain store Leezen Co., according to Kathleen Mackay, executive director of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei.

Canada is not competing with Taiwan in the organic sector, since Canada exports certain kinds of products that cannot necessarily be produced in Taiwan, Mackay said at the opening of the exhibition.

“The organic sector is very specialized. We don't expect it to be very, very large, but it's important to our farming communities in Canada and in Taiwan,” she said.

In addition to the exhibition that is being held Oct. 11-31, the Canadian Trade Office's efforts will expand to in-store promotions this year and next year, in collaboration with local retailers, to develop more direct interaction with consumers, according to Karen Huang, a trade commissioner at the office.

“Taiwanese consumers do not know much about Canadian food imports, so we want to raise awareness,” she said.

In 2011, the value of Canadian food imports to Taiwan was about CA$230 million (US$234.5 million), only 2.5 percent of the total value of Taiwan's food imports, Huang said.

The United States remained way out front with 28 percent of the total value last year, followed by Brazil and Australia with 7 percent each, and Japan with 6 percent, she said.

The Canadian Trade Office represents Canada's interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.

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