China approves imports from 3 Irish beef processors - Irish broadcaster

Donegal meat producer among first to enter the Chinese beef market

Recently, Chinese officials have visited meat plants and cattle farms in Ireland to assess quality and facility standards as they considered opening up their market to Irish beef imports.

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".

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

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

In total there are 25 plants throughout Ireland that have sought access to the market. Dairy exports reached €667 million while pig meat sales were more than € 100 million in 2017.

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.

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

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

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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.

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.

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

Within the last 30 years Chinese demand for meat has quadrupled, and the country now consumes one quarter of the world's meat supply.

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

Minister Creed will lead a trade mission to China next month to further built trade relationships with Ireland and continue dialogue with the Chinese government.

Deputy Kenny said, "The opening of the Chinese market is a positive move for Irish beef farmers and I congratulate those involved in negotiating it".

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