As China's appetite for steak grows, Beijing ends its beef with imports
China, the world's top meat market, is loosening longstanding restrictions on beef imports from major suppliers to feed the appetite of the country's growing middle class for steaks and ribs.
Over the past few decades, Beijing banned imports of beef from European countries and the United States during outbreaks of mad cow disease.
Worries about the disease are subsiding following more stringent inspections on foreign arrivals, while Chinese people are seeking healthier sources of protein and adopting more Western eating habits.
Beef is now the fastest-growing meat in China, outstripping stagnant demand for more widely eaten pork as consumers look to reduce fat in their diets.
But supplies are unlikely to keep up with demand given the high cost of raising cattle in China, prompting the government to rethink its import restrictions.
After years of lobbying, the United States succeeded in getting the curbs lifted in June, ending a 14-year ban triggered by a case of mad-cow disease in Washington state.
China also gave the greenlight for beef from South Africa and Ireland earlier this year, and on Tuesday said it is considering bringing in beef from Namibia.
China's beef purchases have soared in recent years, eclipsing Europe, South Korea and Japan since 2012.