China will allow Irish beef exports

Leitrim TD Martin Kenny welcomes Chinese beef deal

Irish beef is heading to the Chinese market for the first time in 18 years

The Larry Goodman-owned ABP plant in Clones in County Monaghan, Slaney Meats based in County Wexford, and Donegal Meat Processors are the factories that have been given full approval by the Chinese authorities to export frozen boneless beef products from today (16 April), Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Michael Creed announced, according to the television news channel RTE.

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.

China has already granted access for chilled beef from Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the United States, from where imports of the meat are now threatened with tit-for-tat tariffs.

China - which has threatened tariffs on United States beef imports, amid growing Beijing-Washington tensions - has opened itself up to purchases from the European Union, is poised to approve supplies from three Irish plants.

For beef, the door has now been opened and there is a real opportunity for the industry to build on this, added Creed, who will lead a trade mission to China next month to further build on Ireland's trade relationships.

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

"Opening and developing new markets is also a key part of our response to the uncertainties arising from Brexit", Mr Creed said.

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The US is the top beef importer, with volumes forecast this year by the USDA at 1.38m tonnes, although unlike China, it exports almost as much as it buys in.

Our exports to China were worth nearly a billion Euro past year - even with the beef ban in place.

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

The average beef consumption per capita every year is 4kg, compared to the average Irish consumption of 19kg per person.

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

The minister said: "I firmly believe that our beef industry can and will compete effectively in the Chinese market and I look forward to the opportunities that this access will bring".

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