Bord Bia closing on deal to export beef to tech savvy Chinese market
Ireland is close to becoming the first major EU country to secure beef access to China, where consumers' appetite for the meat is growing strongly, according to Bord Bia.
The food marketing agency signalled it was "optimistic" about securing market access to the growing Asian powerhouse, which is already the world's second-biggest beef importer.
Bord Bia's Shanghai-based trade marketing specialist Conor O'Sullivan said that with rising incomes and urbanisation, the appetite for beef among Chinese consumers is growing faster than any other protein.
Mr O'Sullivan told the Bord Bia meat marketing seminar how Chinese consumers often do not trust home produce, with 40pc of rivers and a significant portion of arable land now polluted.
"Already China imports around 15pc of the beef it eats, and in three years it will be 20pc. That is really just the start as China is currently not a big beef eater," said Mr O'Sullivan, adding that it was realistic to say consumption would grow to mirror other Asian countries such as Japan and Korea.
"That is really important as for every extra kilogram Chinese consumers eat, that means they will have to find nearly 1.4 million tonnes of beef."
Unlike the traditional shop retail format, Mr O'Sullivan signalled that they see the opportunity for Irish beef in restaurant chains and through e-commerce channels where consumers are ordering for online deliveries. He pointed out that technology companies were already moving to take over the traditional shop chains as online buying begins to take hold in the food sector.
Sinead McPhillips, assistant secretary general at the Department of Agriculture, said they recently received a translation of a Chinese audit carried out at Irish meat plants. She signalled there was "good progress" made, with a number of issues remaining for discussion which hopefully could be progressed "as soon as possible".