South Korea to conduct inspections for Irish beef exports next month

A delegation from South Korea is expected to conduct a systems audit visit regarding Irish beef access to the country in May, the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney has said.

The Minister was responding to a parliamentary question in the Dail last week on new markets for Irish products.

It is understood that the audit visit will be similar to that of the Chinese audit visit which took place earlier this year and that the food safety standards of meat plants will be examined.

Meanwhile, the Minister said that significant progress has been made along the path to securing access to the Chinese market for Irish beef.

This progress was in the form of the lifting of the BSE ban by China in February 2015, and an inspection visit by a delegation from AQSIQ to Ireland was hosted in January 2016, he said.

The Minister also said that steps have been taken towards the opening of the Israeli market for beef exports once again following an audit visit to approve selected plants in February 2016.

There is a strong demand for meat globally and my role as Minister is to facilitate market access and to enable Irish exporters to take advantage of the opportunities that arise.

“My Department engages on an ongoing basis with many third countries, in collaboration with Bord Bia, the meat industry, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the European Commission on various market access issues.

“2015 was a very successful year for meat exports. According to Bord Bia overall exports of beef, sheepmeat, pigmeat and poultry increased by €140m to €3.5 billion.

“Although exports to the EU account for the majority of meat exports, Third Country markets are increasingly an important alternative outlet for the industry.”

Currently, Ireland exports beef to the USA, Japan, the Philippines, Canada, Singapore, Egypt, Iran and Oman.

“The opening of the US market to Irish beef in early 2015 has provided an important outlet that holds enormous potential for future development given that we are the first EU Member State to gain access.

“An estimated 1,800t valued at €14m was exported in 2015. In quarter one of 2016 approximately 700t with a value of €6m are estimated to have been exported, continuing the positive trends from last year.

“My Department remains engaged with the US authorities to allow for the extension of beef exports to include manufacturing beef/Beef Intended for Grinding (mince).”