Farm Ireland

Sunday 23 October 2016

ABP flies to China to flag the potential of Irish beef

Gavin McLoughlin and Louise Hogan

Published 06/04/2016 | 02:30

Larry Goodman. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Larry Goodman. Photo: Steve Humphreys

ABP's Larry Goodman flew to Beijing to meet with Chinese government officials to highlight the quality of Ireland's beef as processors bid to gain access to the Asian marketplace.

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Along with the US, China has been a key target for the country's meat processors after the Asian giant moved to lift the BSE ban on imported Irish beef in 2015.

However, discussions to achieve full approval are still continuing behind the scenes with further visits from Chinese authorities expected.

A spokesman for the Agriculture Department said they are continuing to work closely with the Chinese authorities to finalise the remaining technical steps to allow trade of Irish beef to China to begin.

"A Chinese inspection team visited Ireland for 10 days in January and we are currently awaiting their report which will determine next steps," a spokesman stated.

Dawn Meats has already flagged the potential it sees in China for the Irish market.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information show that ABP Food Group contacted the Bureau of Import and Export Food Safety, AQSIQ to meet officers in Beijing last November.

"The purpose of the meeting would be to discuss the ongoing process of approving Irish beef for export to China," stated the letter from ABP.

"The company is privately owned by the Goodman family. Each year, ABP Food Group slaughters circa one million cattle across Ireland, the UK and Poland. Group turnover is currently €2.4bn per annum."

A spokesman for ABP said the market access process is ongoing. "The meeting with the Chinese government officials was an opportunity to highlight the quality and unique attributes of Irish beef from the leading player in the sector," the spokesman stated.

It comes as the Polish competition authority has been notified by the ABP Food Group of a proposed merger between ABP Poland and a Polish beef processing firm, Sklodowscy-Tykocin.

The firm has a meat processing facility with a capacity of 4,800 head a month.

The value of the proposed deal has not been disclosed by ABP.

ABP Poland is already active in the country through its two plants at Pniewy, purchased in 2011, and Klosowice, purchased in 2014, which process around 100,000 animals a year. Exports of beef from Poland rose 15pc last year, with exports of over 400,000t valued at €1.3bn.

ABP Food Group and Fane Valley Co-Op are already awaiting the outcome of documents lodged with the EU merger watchdog over the proposed joint venture in relation to Slaney Foods which would see it process 28pc of the cattle kill.

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