‘There is huge potential in China…it could open the door for our beef’

There is huge potential for Irish meat in China – which could significantly reduce the Irish dependence on the UK market – but there has to be buy-in from the industry, according to Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Andrew Doyle.

Speaking to AgriLand today, Wednesday, August 28, the minister outlined that, with Chinese officials inspecting Irish meat facilities this week, there is a real opportunity for the agricultural industry to make inroads in the eastern market.

“Maybe we’re on the cusp of something here that’s really big – but we do need to see a return to the market price for the producers; that’s the bottom line,” Minister Doyle said.

There’s huge potential in China because of African Swine Fever – for both beef and poultry – and pigmeat in particular into that market. They’re crying out for it and they’ll pay for it.

“I think that we could really tailor ourselves in a way that the dairy sector has had to move to milk powder for the Chinese market; availed of the opportunity following the scare from the New Zealand suppliers.

“It opened the door for us – and there’s a potential here that it could open the door for our beef.”

Key to increased capacity

The minister said, however, that the key to increased capacity that there are enough plants licensed to fill the potential in the market.

Minister Doyle noted that Ministers Creed, Coveney and himself have all been on trade missions to the Asian country, working with officials and the establishment, which he said takes its course.

However, he said, the fact that African Swine Fever has had such an impact on China – the world’s largest consumer of pork – provides a real opportunity for the sector to progress in the market.

“I think there’s a future potential there which reduces the dependency on the UK market. Because we have Brexit coming down the line in two months’ time and the outcome is anything but certain or reassuring.

We need to see that this is potential that can actually stabilise the market.

Turning to the attraction of Irish beef, Minister Doyle said:

“The Chinese are interested in us because they know we produce beef sustainably and an in an environmentally friendly way and traceable – they know that. So that’s why they’re interested in the Irish supply chain.

Dependence

“It has the potential to really reduce significantly our dependence on the British market I believe – but everyone has to buy into it; it’s as simple as that.

“We have to persuade the primary producer that this is real, live opportunity,” Minister Doyle concluded.

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