‘A small part of the Chinese market could deliver huge rewards’

A small part of the Chinese market could deliver huge rewards, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

The minister made the comments as he spoke on RTE Radio 1’s Morning Ireland show, delivering the news that the Chinese market has been opened to Irish beef exports.

There have been a lot of hurdles; but, we’ve cleared the final one now.

“We have a number of plants that are now approved – we hope to have others approved shortly – and it is up to those plants to build their market contacts out there.

“This is a market of nearly 1.5 billion people; so a small part of that market could deliver huge rewards for the Irish beef industry,” he said.

The three processing plants which have received approval are:
  • ABP Clones, Co. Monaghan;
  • Slaney Meats, Co. Wexford;
  • Donegal Meat processors.

Meanwhile, it was also revealed by RTE’s George Lee that a second tranche of processors were also awaiting approval – these include: ABP Nenagh; Kepak Clonee; Kildare Chilling; Liffey Meats; and Dawn Meats, Charleville, Co. Cork.

Continuing, Minister Creed explained that the push to gain market access to China was part of his department’s Brexit strategy given that over 50% – or in excess of 250,000t – of Irish beef exports go into the UK market.

Significance of the market

The minister was confident that this development would prove beneficial and he was excited about the prospects it offered to the Irish beef sector.

As it stands, China is Ireland’s second biggest market for both dairy and pork, he added.

The other issue which is really important is they import and are very interested in, what the industry here would term, the fifth quarter – the product that’s probably not as much in demand in the other markets that we are in.

“I am confident that it will become a significant market. How significant? I don’t think it’s wise to put a figure on that. But look at what happened with dairy and pork.”

When asked what the message is now to Irish farmers, he said: “The message is, there are exacting demands in international markets and here is another really, really important market – probably the single biggest in volume terms – which is recognising that we are capable of meeting those exacting and demanding standards.

If [farmers] continue to produce – as they are – a recognised quality product of international standing, then the world is literally our oyster in terms of the markets we can access.

“The more markets we can access, the better chance we have of delivering a better margin to the primary producer here,” he concluded.