Minister highlights 'enormous potential' of Chinese beef market

Donegal meat producer among first to enter the Chinese beef market

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed says after years of hard work, the Chinese authorities will this week confirm access for Irish Beef exports.

"It has taken a huge effort by Team Ireland; Ministers, Departmental and agency officials over several years to get beef market access to China over the line, and I want to thank each and everyone who has made a contribution to this effort", he said. That ban was officially lifted three years ago but trade still has not resumed.

The opening of the Chinese market to Irish beef exports is "an important breakthrough", according to Meat Industry Ireland (MII) director, Cormac Healy.

The country is Ireland's third largest market - previous year our agri-food exports there were worth almost a billion Euro.

So far three factories have been fully approved and can begin exporting.

However, despite increases in domestic beef production in China, consumer demand for premium imported beef is forecast to rise significantly - driven by factors like increasing urbanisation and higher disposable income. "We would expect that this first group of plants will be in a position to commence trade with China in the very near future".

In China, annual per capita beef consumption is low at 4-6kg - compared to 19kg in Ireland.

Bord Bia has welcomed the announcement.

Last week the meat processors Kildare Chilling hosted 21 buyers from China, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, South East Asia, Germany and North America as part of Bord Bia's Marketplace International, which saw over 50 international food buyers visit Kildare to meet with leading businesses in the county. Marketplace 2018 will be the largest worldwide food buyer event ever staged in Ireland, with in-excess of 600 food and drink trade buyers from 52 countries travelling to meet, and do business, with the Irish food and drink industry.

He added that the more markets Ireland could access, the bigger the opportunities of delivering better margins for the primary producer. "For beef, the door has now been opened and there is a real opportunity for the industry to build on this".

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