Creed completes first leg of Chinese trade trip

Michael Creed the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has today, Tuesday, May 14, concluded the first leg of a trade mission to China, where he led an Irish delegation at Asia’s largest food exhibition.

The minister, along with representatives of Irish food companies, were in attendance at the SIAL China exhibit, held in the coastal city of Shangai.

“SIAL provides a unique opportunity for Irish industry to meet and engage with key buyers, distributors and manufacturers from China’s food sector,” said Minister Creed, speaking prior to the event.

The Origin Green Ireland stand will showcase the commitment of the Irish food industry to food safety, sustainability and authenticity to attendees at the exhibition, which will attract over 100,000 trade specialists.

The minister’s arrival at the event comes the day after he hosted a ‘China Focus’ seminar for Irish companies and their main partners in China.

“China is a hugely valuable market, already in our top three export destinations for Irish pork and dairy,” he highlighted.

Addressing the beef trade, Minister Creed said that Chinese consumers had an appetite for Irish beef.

I was delighted to see first hand the real enthusiasm of Chinese trade buyers and consumers for Irish beef, and the innovative ways in which this quality product can be adapted to suit Chinese cuisines and consumer tastes.

“Up to [the end of] February, CSO [Central Statistics Office] trade statistics show that 2,000t of Irish beef, valued at €4.7 million, have been exported since trade commenced last summer.

“There is real evidence that Irish companies are beginning to gain a foothold in the Chinese market, from which they can grow and develop further,” the minister argued.

He also outlined the potential in the Chinese market for sheepmeat, saying that working on further access for that product was a “key priority” for his department this year.

Tara McCarthy, CEO of Bord Bia, also weighed in on the importance of the mission.

Many of these new markets are outside the EU where customers may have difficulty to find Ireland on the map, never mind to understand our sophisticated food safety and sustainable production systems.

“We fought hard therefore to win the contract to manage the EU campaign to promote beef and lamb in China under the banner ‘European Beef and Lamb: Excellence in Food Safety and Sustainability’,” explained McCarthy.

She argued that: “Winning the contract puts Ireland centre stage as the standard bearer of the best in EU meat production.”