CHINA - China has lifted its ban on Irish beef.
The move follows the recent launch of Irish beef in the US for the first time in more than 15 years.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Covenesaid that this was a very significant advance for the Irish beef sector.
“This announcement follows on intensive political, technical and diplomatic engagement with the Chinese authorities over several years,” he said.
“We made a significant breakthrough last November when I led a major trade mission to China, involving Irish leading beef companies.
“My Chinese Agriculture counterpart Minister Han Changfu and his colleague Minister Shi Zhuping, who is responsible for Inspection and Quarantine, agreed at that time to send a veterinary inspection team to Ireland.
“This inspection followed last December, and the Irish food safety control system passed with flying colours.
“I want to thank the Chinese authorities for following through on their commitment, and delivering an outcome which paves the way for Irish beef access to China.”
The value of agri food exports from Ireland to China (including Hong Kong) last year amounted to almost €620 million according to CSO trade statistics, an increase of almost two and a half times the level of exports in 2011 when they stood at €254 million.
In the early 1980’s beef consumption registered 0.32kg per capita in China.
This had increased to 5kg by 2009, and is expected to exceed 6kg per capita by 2025.
Mr Coveney said that Chinese beef consumption is estimated at approximately 6 million tonnes at present and is expected to grow by over one million tonnes over the next five years.
“Increasing demand for beef in China will be driven by urbanisation, increasing affluence and especially by the westernisation of Chinese diet,” he said.
“There is market potential not only for beef offals, but increasingly for high quality steak cuts and for traceable manufacturing beef for the expanding fast food sector.
“This announcement will pave the way for Irish operators to get a share of that market. It is also critically important from a reputational point of view that Irish food safety control systems have come through the intensive scrutiny of Chinese and US inspection authorities with flying colours.”
While China has formally lifted its ban on Irish beef, the next step in the process will involve the agreement of a protocol to determine, which cuts can be exported and the agreement of a veterinary certificate.
This will be followed by a Chinese veterinary inspection to approve individual processing plants for export.
Minister Coveney said that his Department would be continuing its technical engagement with the Chinese authorities to ensure that this process is concluded as soon as possible.
TheMeatSite News Desk