Export prospects for Irish bone-in and chilled beef mooted in Beijing

The Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has raised the prospect of adding boned-in beef and chilled beef to the list of permissible Irish products for export to China.

This morning the minister met with Zou Zhiwi, Vice-Minister of the General Administration of Customs, China (GACC) and senior agency officials, in Beijing.

Speaking on the second day of a week long agri-food trade mission to China, Minister Creed said: “There is a significant restructuring of Chinese trade authorities underway at present, therefore this was a timely opportunity to meet with one of the major gatekeepers in terms of market access here.

China customs holds responsibility for customs control, revenue collection, port management amongst other key competencies integral to the movement of goods.

“Vice-Minister Zou Zhiwi offered strong assurances that the restructuring process will lead to enhanced co-operation and simplification of systems into the future.”

E-certification system

During the course of today’s meeting, Minister Creed took the opportunity to raise a number of issues of importance to Irish exporters.

The minister continued: “Having established beef access to the Chinese market in recent weeks, I raised the prospect of adding boned-in beef and chilled beef to the list of permissible products for export to China.

“I also discussed the progress of a protocol between Customs China and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine for the exportation of breeding swine to China.

The potential development of an e-certification system which would allow for greater clarity in terms of goods being exported, as well as being a robust anti-fraud measure was also discussed.

Today the Irish delegation travelled to Shanghai ahead of its participation in SIAL – one of the world’s largest food trade shows over the next number of days.

On arrival in Shanghai, Minister Creed addressed a Bord Bia ‘Doing Business in China’ information event for Irish companies.

Speaking at the event Minister Creed said: “I am very confident about Ireland’s agri-food exports to China. In a few short years, the Chinese market has already proven its extraordinary potential.

“Ireland’s agri-food exports to China have increased roughly five-fold from around €200 million in 2010, to approximately €1 billion last year. This achievement is truly remarkable and in many ways is a minor economic miracle,” he said.

Bord Bia study

At today’s seminar, Bord Bia also launched its meat strategy for the Chinese market following the recent granting of access for Irish beef.

In recent years and months, Bord Bia has been working on market insight to help prepare the industry for beef access.

A comprehensive routes to market study has been completed and shared with industry today which includes contacts and profiles of over 50 importers, food service and ecommerce companies across six cities in China.

According to Tara McCarthy, chief executive, Bord Bia “this new study has given us, and the industry, a clear view of how beef moves within China and has helped us understand the options open to the Irish beef industry.

In addition to this trade report, our Thinking House team recently surveyed 5,000 Chinese consumers, identifying in and out of home beef consumption habits, shopping habits and cut and country preferences.

Concluding McCarthy added: “We’re now into our second year of a three-year strategy. Last year was about building awareness and enthusiasm before exports began. This year, it’s about developing routes to market. And next year, it will be focused on growing the value of exports.”

Conor Finnerty reporting from China.