Chinese market opens to Irish beef exports

Chinese market opens to Irish beef exports

In a statement released this morning, Creed said: "The opening of this key market presents an excellent opportunity for the Irish beef sector, from farmers through to processors, in line with the market development theme of our Food Wise strategy". China is Ireland's third-largest market overall.

China is Ireland's third largest market, a year ago Ireland's agri-food exports there were worth almost a billion euro.

Irish beef is being allowed back into China.

In January, China said it would lift its ban on British beef but farmers may have to wait years before receiving regulatory approval from Beijing; it took three years from lifting the ban on Irish beef for China to approve imports.

By 2020, it is estimated Chinese consumers will eat close to nine million tonnes of beef.

The government said that several beef producers were expected to be approved to sell to China within days.

In 2016, China became the world's second-largest beef importer behind the USA, importing 800,000 metric tons worth $2.6 billion.

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Imports to China have increased from under 100,000 tonnes in 2012 to about 600,000 tonnes in 2016.

It is the culmination of years of talks between Ireland and China and the result of a "huge effort by Team Ireland", said the Minister.

China first banned exports of beef from Europe in 2001 in response to the outbreak of mad cow disease and the ban also covered U.S. beef after the disease appeared in the United States in 2003.

When asked what the message is now to Irish farmers, he said: "The message is, there are exacting demands in worldwide markets and here is another really, really important market - probably the single biggest in volume terms - which is recognising that we are capable of meeting those exacting and demanding standards".

Within the past 30 years the middle class has grown dramatically and Chinese demand for meat has quadrupled, with the country consuming one-quarter of the world's meat supply.

On average, Chinese beef consumption per capita is 4kg, compared to average Irish consumption of 19kg of beef per capita per year.

He is due to lead a trade mission to China in May to further build on relations and push for the approval of five more beef plants, which have applied for access but have not yet been approved.

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