Bord Bia’s presence in China underpins the importance of the market

The presence of Bord Bia staff in China highlights the importance of the market to Irish agri-food exports, according to the CEO of Bord Bia, Tara McCarthy.

McCarthy was part of a delegation that travelled to China last week as part of a trade mission to mark Ireland being granted access to export beef to the vast market.

During a ‘Doing Business in China’ seminar held in Shanghai last Tuesday (May 15), she highlighted that Bord Bia’s office in China is set to become the second largest of the Irish Food Board’s overseas offices after the UK.

As it stands, Bord Bia currently has 13 offices listed overseas – taking in locations such as: Amsterdam; Dubai; Dusseldorf; London; Madrid; Milan; Moscow; New York; Paris; Shanghai; Stockholm; Singapore; and Warsaw.

When we are finished with our recruitment process at the moment, our Chinese office – even though it is a relatively new office – will be our second largest office overseas after the UK.

“That’s obviously testament to where we see the opportunities. It is also a testament over the last five years that we have undertaken over 10 detailed research projects in this market.

“It is only by gathering that information and spending in-depth time speaking to consumers that we actually have some sort of idea what it is that they are looking for,” she said.

‘It’s a journey rather than an end game’

Following last week’s “successful trade mission” and with beef access now secured, Bord Bia plans to increase its resources on the ground in China to help convert all awareness and interest into actual business.

Addressing the seminar, McCarthy added: “From all of the events that we have been running, one of the key things that you will find is that the Chinese market is actually a process; it’s a journey rather than an end game.

Every single time we come to this market, every single new event that we run here, we learn something new. I think the merit of running these trade missions is that it gives us some markers on that journey.

“They help us to look and process that information and to update ourselves as you go through the different phases. It is critically important as well, as part of these trade missions, that we get an opportunity to interact.”

She outlined that China was the number one market identified when Bord Bia carried out its market prioritisation exercise with the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine earlier this year – for Ireland’s dairy, meat and seafood produce.

Concluding, McCarthy stated that it is vitally important that Ireland now converts the access it has been given into market opportunity.

“This is only the beginning; what we are looking to do, from a Bord Bia perspective, is to play a very strong role in: building on the market insights; building on the knowledge; building on the awareness; and – most importantly – building on that growth opportunity,” she concluded.