Irish beef exports to Chinese market approved

Irish beef exports to Chinese market approved

'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, ' he added. China is Ireland's third-largest market overall.

Despite this, our exports to China were worth nearly a billion Euro a year ago and Minister Creed says this move will give farmers access to the biggest market on the planet.

Bord Bia's Tara McCarthy said it has been actively planning for this access through its Shanghai office and it was testimony to the "reputation" of Irish beef.

In February, ABP signed a €50 million deal to supply beef to the restaurant chain Wowprime in self-ruled Taiwan, as well as the Chinese mainland.

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.

While beef has been a minority taste in China compared to pork, it is growing in popularity and the country is now the world's second-biggest importer of beef.

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

Meat Industry Ireland (MII), which represents the country's valuable processing industry, described it as an "important breakthrough" after years of intensive efforts.

A formal agreement to lift the ban on Irish beef was agreed in 2015, making Ireland the first country in the European Union with permission to sell back into China.

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'.

According to Irish broadcaster, RTE, ABP in Clones in Co Monaghan, Slaney Meats based in Co Wexford, and Donegal Meat Processors have all been given approval for access to China, with the hope that five more Irish plants will be given the green light as well.

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.

The department will complete the final technicalities to allow trade to commence in the coming weeks.