China gets a taste of Irish beef again

Three beef factories have been approved by the Chinese authorities and are the first European beef processors to gain access to that country

Three beef factories have been approved by the Chinese authorities and are the first European beef processors to gain access to that country

China is now fully open and operational for Irish beef, and the export of frozen boneless beef to the largest single food market in the world can begin.

'Opening and developing new markets is also a key part of our response to the uncertainties arising from Brexit'.

A formal agreement to lift the ban on Irish beef was agreed in 2015, making Ireland the first country in the European Union with permission to sell back into China.

Irish agri-food exports to China have increased five-fold over the past eight years and were worth an estimated €974m last year, including €667m in dairy and €100m in pigmeat exports.

Bord Bia CEO, Tara McCarthy, said: "Bord Bia, and in particular, our Shanghai office, has been actively planning and preparing for today's breakthrough, and we are now well-positioned and ready to maximize this significant opportunity for Irish beef exporters".

That ban was officially lifted three years ago but trade still has not resumed.

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.


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

Mr Creed said he would lead a trade mission to China next month to further build on Ireland's trade relationships and continue the dialogue with the Chinese government.

Irish Farmers" Association president Joe Healy also welcomed the news but said it is key that the agreement delivers higher margins to farmers and that terms and conditions attached to market access are not "overly stringent'.

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. The importance of the beef sector to the Irish Agri-food economy can not be underestimated and it is a sector which must be supported develop its benefit to the primary producer.

"In addition to this first tranche of approvals, I am hopeful that a number of other Irish beef plants will not be too far behind".

The department will complete the final technicalities to allow trade to commence in the coming weeks.

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