Small Business BC

Importing Trends: Quinoa and Coconut

With BC’s diverse population bringing their traditions and recipes from around the world; the key trends in food imports are ever changing. Among the more popular imported food products at the moment are quinoa and coconut water.

Quinoa: Its History and Its Future

Gluten free products are increasing popularity when there is sensitivity to other common food allergens such as soy, dairy and corn. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a gluten free grain that does not belong to the leafy grain grass family like wheat, corn, barley, oats and other cereals, therefore making it popular with those who have allergies, are suffering from celiac disease or are just using it as a healthy alternative.  Its versatility to be used in both sweet and savoury recipes has made it hugely popular in BC, but also hard to find.

Quinoa has been cultivated in the mountain regions of Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia for more than 3,000 years. And those three countries remain the largest consumers and exporters of the product today. 

The general duty rate of quinoa is 6%, however with both Ecuador and Bolivia benefiting from the General Preferential Tariff country list, they only a rate of 5%.  Better still, Peru signed a Free Trade Agreement with Canada in 2009 which means that quinoa grown and exported directly from there is duty free.  Both agreements offer enticing options for importers in Canada: So enticing, in fact, that the value of this imported good has risen in value by over 34% in the last 4 year.

One Coconut: Many Uses

According to Euromonitor International, Brazil is currently the world's largest source for packaged coconut water.  It accounted for 67% of 100% juice retail volume sales in 2010, compared to 47% in 2005 and 21% in 2003. This rapid gain in market share came primarily at the expense of orange juice. 

Coconut water's success in Brazil indicates that major opportunities exist in other tropical countries where the drink is part of local beverage consumption culture, such as Indonesia, India, Philippines, Malaysia and Ecuador. And each of these are covered by the General Preferential tariff treatment, meaning that both coconut water and oil are duty free and coconut milk up to 7% compared to the normal 11%.

And it’s not just the water from the coconut that is a growing trend, other food items include coconut oil and coconut milk. All of which have grown in popularity due to their healthy nutritional value.

So What Else do you Need to Know if you are Looking to Import Quinoa or Coconut Products to Canada? 

To import quinoa, coconut milk, water and oil into Canada, you’re not required to obtain a licence or permit, but you are required to label the product with the nutritional data both in French and English.  

If importing the goods from a country under a Free Trade Agreement or a General Preferential Tariff you will need to obtain a certificate of origin from the supplier to prove that the product was created and packaged from the country within the agreement.   To find out more about the specific regulations under these agreements visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) website. 

The Growth of Wealth from Health

Health and nutrition is a growing focus of many of us, and that is strengthening this segment of the import food market. The universal consumer appeal of natural products that are better for you is often too tempting for importer to ignore.  But before jumping into this market it is important to do your research and understand fully the regulations that apply when dealing in international markets.

To find out more about the types of importing regulations for business, attend Sandra’s monthly seminar or contact our Client Services team to make an appointment with one of our trade team.

About The Author

Sandra Light

With a passion for languages, cultures and trade, Sandra Light is a natural fit in an international business environment. She graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in International Business from England and a Masters in International Commerce from France.

Working in a wide range of export departments from small businesses to multinational firms such as Alcan, Sandra knows the daily challenges in exporting food and industrial products. With solid experience in international logistics and imports to Canada, Sandra guides entrepreneurs in their trade business and confidently prepares them for the challenges and opportunities of international trade.

Articles and blog posts written by Sandra Light

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