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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019

After 18 years, China has opened its markets to Irish beef

Chinese demand for meat has quadrupled in the last three decades.

Image: Shutterstock/Natalya Danko

CHINA HAS OPENED its markets to Irish beef after years of negotiations, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed confirmed this morning.

Both China and the US had banned imports of beef from the EU in 2000 due to fears over BSE (mad cow disease).

Ireland was granted a licence to sell beef in the US three years ago.

In recent years, Chinese officials have visited meat plants, cattle farms and other industry facilities here to assess quality standards. A formal agreement to lift the ban was announced in 2015.

The Chinese administration has now given the green light for trade to recommence, in order to help meet the increased demand for meat products.

Chinese demand for meat has quadrupled in the last three decades, and the country now consumes one quarter of the world’s supply. On average Chinese beef consumption per capita is 4kg, compared to average Irish consumption of 19kg of beef per person per year.

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.

“I understand that the Chinese authorities will list a number of our beef establishments within the next few days,” Creed said this morning in a statement.

“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.

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

This decision also represents a powerful endorsement of Ireland’s high standards by the Chinese administration, for which food safety is a prerequisite for trade.

Creed said agri-food exports to China increased roughly five-fold from around €200 million in 2010 to nearly €1 billion last year.

“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,” he added. Department officials will complete the final technicalities to allow trade to commence in the coming weeks.

Read: Irish beef sellers can tell Americans that it is grass-fed, traceable and free of hormones >

Read: After 15 years, China has lifted its ban on Irish beef >

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