China plans to toughen its standard for imported Canadian canola from 1 April, reducing the amount of foreign material it allows per shipment, Reuters reports.

China’s quarantine authority, AQSIQ, notified the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) on 1 March that it would soon allow no more than 1% dockage, or the amount of foreign material per canola shipment, according to Canola Council of Canada President Patti Miller.

The current allowable dockage range was 2-2.5% and the new standard would be difficult and costly for Canadian exporters to meet, said a Canadian-based canola exporter in the Reuters report.

Foreign material can include seeds of other plants or straw that gets inadvertently mixed with the shipment.

Although China had expressed renewed concerns since December about the possible presence of the blackleg fungus in shipments, exporters suspected its motivation for slowing imports was linked to ample domestic inventories, the exporter said.

China was holding about 5.8M tonnes of rapeseed oil following years of stockpiling, the report said.

According to Reuters, China was the biggest importer of Canadian canola during the 2014/15 crop year – with Statistics Canada data showing it bought 4.1M tonnes – and Canada was the world’s biggest canola exporter.