7th Irish plant approved to export beef to China

Liffey Meats has become the seventh Irish beef processor to get approval to export to China, it has been confirmed.

The decision follows initial approval last year for six other Irish beef processing plants including: BP Clones; Donegal Meat Processors (Foyle Meats); Slaney Foods International; ABP Nenagh; Kepak Clonee; and Dawn Meats Charleville.

A further tranche of 12 applications from Irish beef processors have also been submitted the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs for approvals. A decision is still awaited on these applications.

Speaking to AgriLand, Cormac Healy, the senior director of Meath Industry Ireland (MII), welcomed the latest announcement – but hopes the next 12 will get the green light “as soon as possible”.

“The applications for the 12 additional processors were lodged last November. We were hoping that we would have had an announcement by now.”

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, said he is “very pleased” that a further Irish beef plant has now been approved by the Chinese authorities and listed by GACC, the Chinese General Administration of Customs.

“I am very pleased that the Chinese officials in GACC have been able to complete this part of the registration process.”

“This is a testament to my department’s work in pursuing market access through technical, diplomatic and political channels. Increasing market opportunities for our exporters is a key component of the Food Wise 2025 strategy and our response to Brexit.”

This will bring to twelve the number of Irish meat plants, excluding Coldstores, which are approved to export to China – seven beef plants and five pigmeat plants.

“The geographic spread of these plants, with knock on benefits to our farmers all across the country, is also notable. My focus is now on getting additional beef plants approved and I will also try to progress sheepmeat access to China as part of the trade mission there next month,” he said.

ASF ‘opportunities’

Meanwhile, Cormac Healy has said that the threat of African swine fever (ASF) in China boosts potential for Irish beef imports.

“There is opportunity for beef in China as overall import demand increases due to African swine fever. Demand for all proteins will increase.

We have to capitalise on the situation by first getting more plants approved to harvest our products.

Speaking at an open beef farmer meeting organised by Laois Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) last night, Monday, April 15, in Portlaoise, Michael Houlihane, sector manager with Bord Bia, also said that the current outbreak of African swine fever could create opportunities for Irish beef to expand in the country.

“The swine fever epidemic that’s currently ongoing in China is having a big impact in terms of supply and availability there and it’s expected that China will start to hoover up some of the pork that’s in EU markets and other markets – and that in turn might create opportunities in beef and other categories of meat across the EU.”

Houlihane noted that the overall picture in terms of beef imports globally is positive with the exception of Russia for 2019, with increases on the cards.

A lot of this increase is taking place in Asia with China in particular forecasting a 10% increase in terms of beef imports there.

“While there’s always challenges in trying to gain access and develop leads and get customers in new and emerging markets, what the figures would suggest is there are potential opportunities there.”