Chinese beef imports ‘explode’ in the first three months of 2016

The volume of beef and veal imported by China during the first three months of the year has exploded, according to the AHDB (the body for English beef and lamb).

During the first quarter of 2016, Chinese importers sourced 140,000t of beef, which is double the volume imported during the corresponding period in 2015.

This continues the trend which was seen during the first two months of the year, when Chinese beef imports stood at 95,000t, up 100% on the same time in 2015.

The majority of beef imported by China comes from the Southern Hemisphere, the AHDB reports, as these nations account for 90% of all Chinese beef imports.

Brazil is currently the largest supplier of beef to China, following a resurgence in export volumes after the BSE ban was lifted last August.

And, it accounted for over 33% of all beef imports between January to March of this year, while Australia accounted for 20% of the market share during this period.

The AHDB also expects the volume of beef imported from Brazil to increase, as 16 Brazilian beef plants have been certified to export to the Asian state.

Irish Beef Exports To China

Despite the dominance of Brazil and Australia on the Chinese beef market, the opening of the Chinese market to Irish beef last February was welcomed by many industry commentators.

But, full access to the Chinese market has yet to be granted and the Department of Agriculture are working closely with Chinese authorities to finalise the remaining technical steps to allow the trade to commence.

Minister Coveney said China represents a ‘vast opportunity‘ because of its huge population and highlighted what has happened with pork and dairy products over the past five years.

The industry is interested in that and we will make progress on getting in there this year.

The volume and value of beef exports to China will be determined this year by when Irish beef can access the market, he said.

Coveney also said that it could be the first or second quarter of the year before Irish beef is granted full access to China.

“We will have to wait and see. It is up to the Chinese but we are working well with them,” he said.