(Reuters) - The Canadian Wheat Board is aiming to expand the types of crops it sells to Chinese buyers, as Ottawa opens Western Canada's grain market later this year, the board's chief executive said on Friday.
In August, the CWB is set to lose its monopoly to buy and sell Western Canada's wheat and barley for export or human consumption, an advantage that has helped the board make large sales of wheat and malting barley to China in recent years.
At the same time, federal law will allow the CWB for the first time to buy and sell any type of crop from any origin.
President and Chief Executive officer Ian White said he assured China's largest state grain trader COFCO this week that wheat quality standards will remain consistent under the Canadian Grain Commission regulator.
The CWB in its new role is poised to expand trade to China, he said.
"It does open up a lot more opportunities for the CWB for the grains we've been trading, but also other grains," White said in a conference call with Canadian agriculture minister Gerry Ritz, at the end of a government and industry visit to China.
"We're actually looking at a expanded role in the Chinese market for the CWB through our office in Beijing."
White told Reuters last week that the board is eager to add sales of canola and peas in particular.
Canada's largest grain handler Viterra also joined the Canadian visit to China. Like other grain buyers, it will be able to purchase Western Canadian grains directly from farmers starting with the 2012 harvest.
"(COFCO is) excited to continue to do work with the CWB," Ritz said. "They're also excited to move into some of the pulses that they haven't been doing before. There's every kind of opportunity that you can believe here."
Western Canada is a major exporter of pulse, or legume crops, including peas, lentils and chickpeas.
Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by David Gregorio