Chinese market approval ‘an important breakthrough’ for Irish beef

The opening of the Chinese market to Irish beef exports is “an important breakthrough“, according to Meat Industry Ireland (MII) director, Cormac Healy.

MII – the Ibec sector organisation which represents the meat processing and export business in Ireland – has welcomed this morning’s announcement by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

Also Read: Chinese market opened to Irish beef exports

It has been confirmed that the way has been cleared for Irish beef exports to commence to the Chinese market, with the formal approval of the first three Irish beef processing plants.

Commenting on the matter, Healy said: “This is an important breakthrough for the Irish beef sector and comes after many years of extensive efforts by both the Government and the industry to secure access to the rapidly growing Chinese beef import market.

We now understand that the way is clear for the first three beef processing plants to commence exports of frozen beef to China. We would expect that this first group of plants will be in a position to commence trade with China in the very near future.

“This is an important first step; MII will continue to work with the Department of Agriculture and the Chinese authorities to quickly secure the approval to export for all Irish beef processing plants and to extend the list of eligible products that can be traded,” he said.

First European beef exporter to secure access

This development means that Ireland has become the first European beef exporter to secure access to China.

According to Bord Bia, China officially imported more than 700,000t of beef in 2017 – a figure expected to double by 2020.

In China, annual per capita beef consumption is low at 4-6kg – compared to 19kg in Ireland. However, consumption is on the rise. An average annual increase of just 1kg per capita equates to an additional 1.38 million tonnes of beef per annum.

By 2020, it is estimated Chinese consumers will eat close to nine million tonnes of beef, Bord Bia explained.

Speaking today, the CEO of Bord Bia – Tara McCarthy – said: “Today’s timely announcement follows just days after we hosted the China Meat Association and 17 senior representatives from leading Chinese meat importers as part of our Marketplace International event.

All of the visiting Chinese delegates had the opportunity to visit Irish beef farms and processors, giving them a first-hand experience and insight into Irish food production.

“Ireland’s agri-food industry already enjoys a strong trade relationship with China. Exports were valued at almost €1 billion last year – while China is our second largest export market for dairy and pork, behind the UK.

“The opening of Irish beef access is testimony to our industry’s strength, reputation and proven track record in the Chinese market,” she said.