Ireland is to be first EU country to export beef to China, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed has announced.
This opens up a market of almost 1.5 billion people, of which even a fraction could help offset uncertainties arising from Brexit.
Three beef factories have been fully approved by Chinese inspectors and the Minister hopes that five more will follow soon.
The factories that have been approved to actively export to China from this morning include the Larry Goodman-owned ABP plant in Clones in Co Monaghan, Slaney Meats based in Co Wexford, and Donegal Meat Processors, according to RTÉ.
The new market opening follows years of diplomatic and political processes between Ireland and China, which Minister Creed has described as “complex and technical”.
“Primarily it's a triumph for our beef farmers because they're producing quality,” Minister Creed told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland. “But there were a lot of hoops to be jumped through: diplomatic, political, technical but they're all cleared now.”
#Breaking Irish Beef to China: After several years of hard work by many I'm delighted to announce that the Chinese authorities will this week confirm access for Irish Beef exports to China! pic.twitter.com/iBwP6v4f37
— Michael Creed TD (@creedcnw) April 16, 2018
The Irish agri-food trade exports to China reached €947 million last year, with the country representing the second-largest market for Irish dairy and pork, reaching €667 million and €100 million, respectively.
China has seen fourfold increase in demand for meat over the last 30 years, and the country now consumes one quarter of the world’s meat supply.
An emerging middle class, along with a growing urbanisation and more disposable incomes are seeing a growth in westernised dietary habits. While average per capita beef consumption in China is still low at 4kg, compared to 19kg in Ireland, the market for premium imported beef is on the rise.
Minister Creed said that despite the long and “exacting” process of gaining approval by the Chinese authorities, it represented a “powerful endorsement of Ireland’s high standards by the Chinese administration”.
“Our agri-food exports to China have increased roughly five-fold from around €200 million in 2010 to nearly €1 billion last year,” Minister Creed said. “This has been a remarkable achievement and underlines the importance of the Chinese market. For beef, the door has now been opened and there is a real opportunity for the industry to build on this.”
Minister Creed will lead a trade mission to China next month to further built trade relationships with Ireland and continue dialogue with the Chinese government.
“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.
He added that the more markets Ireland could access, the bigger the opportunities of delivering better margins for the primary producer.
© 2018 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Kevin Duggan. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.