Minister urged to ‘take personal interest’ in restarting beef exports to China

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Dara Calleary is being called on to take a “personal interest” in restarting exports of Irish beef to China.

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) has called on the minister to “look at all possibilities around restarting” the beef export trade to the Asian country, which were suspended back in May following a case of ‘atypical’ bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a 14-year-old cow.

Des Morrison, the ICMSA’s Livestock Committee chairperson, said that Irish beef exports to China were halted “just as it looked as if they were set to really hit their stride” in terms of market penetration and reputation.

The loss of all the momentum that had been building was a serious matter, but I’m convinced the situation could be rectified and our beef repositioned as an excellent option for the Chinese market.

“We need the department and Bord Bia to ‘double-up’ on their efforts to get that Chinese market back up and running. There’s no doubt that we had really broken into that market just before everything slowed and then stopped,” Morrison said.

He added: “We’d still be convinced that there’s huge potential there and we’d be just as certain that the quality of our products and the standards we insist upon will appeal very much to Chinese buyers and consumers.

There’s obviously going to be a bit of ‘going through the gears’ as we really rebuild supply chains and re-open markets, but the ICMSA and all farmers involved in producing beef would be greatly encouraged to see a concerted effort being made around getting that Chinese trade re-set and moving it forward.

“We’re going to need it, as we look at the likely numbers going into the ‘back-end’. So we’d like to see some kind of announcement that Minister Calleary is going to take a personal interest in driving that forward and getting momentum going again; getting Chinese buyers back here and getting Bord Bia really active over there,” the ICMSA livestock chairperson said.

“We certainly think that we have to follow-through on the very good work that was done prior to the global lockdown and while there’s still a positive impression of our products and systems in this hugely significant market,” Morrison concluded.