An Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine heard that Irish meat processors are concerned about not being able to meet the volume of beef required for Chinese contracts.
According to Maria Dunne, principal officer of the department’s meat and milk policy division, who was speaking at the committee, processors are calling for more plants to be approved for exports to China.
Ireland currently has 11 meat plants approved to export to China; six of them beef and five of them pigmeat plants.
“When we have gone back and sat down with the companies that are active out there and the ask from them is for actually more plants to be approved,” Dunne told the Oireachtas Committee.
“They say that the issue they have is they have a concern about not being able to meet the volume that the Chinese contracts require.”
Dunne estimated that there are 11 more files out there to approve plants to export to China, and that industry leaders see the potential for “a lot more to be shipped out there, and that is solely in frozen, boneless beef”.
“After that, we will then look at expanding out into other sub-sectors,” she said.
Assistant secretary general of the Department of Agriculture Sinead McPhillips agreed that there has been “significant enthusiasm” from Chinese consumers for Irish beef.
“The way they use that beef is quite different from the way we use it domestically,” she explained, “so they’ll take frozen cuts and slice them very thinly and put them into their traditional cuisine, and there is huge enthusiasm there for Irish beef.”
Dunne warned that after only recently opening the market that it will take time to establish it, but that Irish companies are very focused on China and that “it is seen as a massive win among our European colleagues that we have achieved that”.
Last year Ireland also got approval to export boneless beef to Qatar and to Kuwaiti markets.
© 2019 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Aidan O’Sullivan. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.