Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Irish beef exports to Chinese market approved

Irish beef exports to Chinese market approved

Chinese food authorities are set to approve several Irish meat plants to export beef to China, opening up a potentially huge market within the next few days, according to the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.

It has been three years since China formally lifted a ban on Irish beef exports imposed after the BSE crisis.

The minister said: "I firmly believe that our beef industry can and will compete effectively in the Chinese market and I look forward to the opportunities that this access will bring".

China is Ireland's third largest market, and past year our agri-food exports there were worth almost €1 billion.

However, despite increases in domestic beef production in China, consumer demand for premium imported beef is forecast to rise significantly - driven by factors like increasing urbanisation and higher disposable income.

Overall beef imports to China have increased from under 100,000 tonnes in 2012 to around 600,000 tonnes in 2016.

So far three factories have been fully approved and can begin exporting.

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The average beef consumption per capita every year is 4kg, compared to the average Irish consumption of 19kg per person.

Last week the meat processors Kildare Chilling hosted 21 buyers from China, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, South East Asia, Germany and North America as part of Bord Bia's Marketplace International, which saw over 50 international food buyers visit Kildare to meet with leading businesses in the county.

Bord Bia, the state agency responsible for promoting Irish food overseas, said it had been actively planning and preparing for today's announcement.

Trade growth between Ireland and China clocked up a bigger percentage growth than with any other country a year ago, at 37 per cent.

'We are now well-positioned and ready to maximise this significant opportunity for Irish beef exporters, ' CEO Tara McCarthy said, commenting that China is also Ireland's second largest market for dairy and pork, behind the UK.

"Primarily it's a triumph for our beef farmers because they're producing quality, " the minister added.

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