US beef moves a step closer to accessing ‘enormous’ Chinese market

American beef exports to China are set to resume again after a 14-year absence, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced.

The US has reached an agreement with Chinese officials on export protocols, which will allow for shipments to begin.

China’s beef imports have increased from $275 million in 2012 to $2.5 billion in 2016, according to the USDA. China was the second-largest importer of beef in the world last year, taking in 825,000t.

However, the US has been banned from China’s market since 2003. China implemented the ban on US beef amid concerns about BSE.

Following negotiations, it has been agreed that US beef exports to China must meet specified requirements under the USDA Export Verification (EV) Programme.

  • Beef destined for China must be sourced from cattle that were born, raised and slaughtered in the US, or animals that were imported from Canada or Mexico before being slaughtered domestically.
  • Cattle must be traceable to their birth farm using a unique identifier or, if initially imported into the US, to their first place of residence or port of entry.
  • Beef must be derived from cattle less than 30 months of age.
  • Carcasses, beef and beef products must be uniquely identified and controlled up until the time of shipment.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has also updated its online export library, specifying China’s requirements for certifying US beef being shipped there. Only eligible products may be issued an FSIS Export Certificate.

The US is the world’s largest beef producer and was the world’s fourth-largest exporter, with global sales of more than $5.4 billion in 2016, according to the USDA.

Until the ban took effect, the US was China’s largest supplier of imported beef – providing 70% of their total intake.

‘Momentum, optimism and results’

The US Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, said US cattle producers will be regaining access to an enormous market with an ever-expanding middle class.

Perdue also mentioned the work of President Trump, saying: “Since he was elected, President Trump has brought momentum, optimism and results to American agriculture families that we haven’t seen in years and this agreement is a great example.

I have no doubt that as soon as the Chinese people get a taste of American beef they’ll want more of it.