Chinese beef market opens to Irish exports

Chinese beef market opens to Irish exports

Chinese beef market opens to Irish exports

It is understood three Irish factories have been fully approved by Chinese authorities for export; ABP Clones, Co Monaghan, Slaney Meats in Co Wexford and Donegal Meat Processors.

China banned beef from the European Union and USA during the BSE crisis in 2000 - that ban was officially lifted three years ago but trade still hasn't resumed - until now.

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.

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".

MII's Cormac Healy said the first group of plants was expected to be in a position to begin trade with China in the very near future. All of the visiting Chinese delegates had the opportunity to visit Irish beef farms and processers, giving them a first-hand experience and insight into Irish food production.

Three Ireland-based beef processors have gained access to the Chinese market, with five more potentially in the pipeline.

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.

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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'.

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.

The minister was confident that this development would prove beneficial and he was excited about the prospects it offered to the Irish beef sector.

Ireland is to have access for frozen boneless beef.

Mr Creed will lead a trade mission to China next month to consolidate Ireland's trading relationship with the Chinese government.

"We have a number of plants that are now approved - we hope to have others approved shortly - and it is up to those plants to build their market contacts out there".

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