Ireland beef processors gain access to China with three factories approved

Ireland beef processors gain access to China with three factories approved

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.

The other issue which is really important is they import and are very interested in, what the industry here would term, the fifth quarter - the product that's probably not as much in demand in the other markets that we are in.

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

Frozen boneless beef accounts for about 80 per cent of these imports.

It is believed the delegation will also discuss approval for the five remaining Irish applicants - ABP in Nenagh, Kepak Clonee, Liffey Meats, Dawn Meats Charleville and Kildare Chilling - that have yet to be cleared. China is Ireland's third-largest market overall.

They said an average annual increase of just 1kg per capita equates to an additional 1.38 million tonnes of beef per annum, and by 2020, it is estimated Chinese consumers will eat close to 9 million tonnes of beef. How significant? I don't think it's wise to put a figure on that.

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Plans to lift China's ban on British beef could potentially generate $350 million over a five-year period, said Jane King, chief executive of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

The Goodman-owned ABP has already signed a €50m three-year deal to supply beef to Chinese restaurant chain Wowprime that was awaiting access to get the green-light.

The Minister continued: "Our agri-food exports to China have increased roughly five-fold from around €200 million in 2010 to almost €1 billion previous year". Inspectors from the China state administration of quality supervision, inspection and quarantine have made regular trips to beef plants in Ireland. Dairy exports have led the way, with pigmeat also taking a slice of the market.

"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".

IFA beef chair Angus Woods highlighted the low income levels on beef farms, as the lobby group pointed out it must deliver for farmers.

He added that the more markets Ireland could access, the bigger the opportunities of delivering better margins for the primary producer.

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