Seventh Irish beef plant gets Chinese approval as competition from Brazil set to increase

Up to 78 Brazilian meat processing plants could get approval

Beef steaks are placed for sale at a Sam's Club store of Wal-Mart in Beijing, China June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo
Beef steaks are placed for sale at a Sam's Club store of Wal-Mart in Beijing, China June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Chinese authorities have now approved a seventh Irish beef plant, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has announced.

This announcement follows on from the beef market opening in 2018 and the six Irish beef plants that had already been approved for export.

It comes in advance of the Ministerial Trade Mission to China in May.

Minister Creed said, “This will bring to twelve the number of Irish meat plants, excluding Coldstores, which are approved to export to China – seven beef plants and five pigmeat plants. 

"The geographic spread of these plants, with knock-on benefits to our farmers all across the country, is also notable.

"My focus is now on getting additional beef plants approved and I will also try to progress sheepmeat access to China as part of the Trade Mission there next month.”

Beef exports commenced in 2018 and were around €2.8 million (1,400 tonnes) (CSO trade statistics).

According to USDA forecasts China is expected to consume over 8.5 million tonnes of beef in 2018. This is more than any other country outside the USA and almost 4% ahead of 2017 consumption levels.

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However, China could agree to allow more Brazilian meat imports following high-level talks set for May, the Chinese ambassador to Brazil told Reuters.

Yang Wanming declined to comment on how many meat processing plants could be approved to export to China but said the issue would be discussed when Brazil Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias travels to China in May.

New export permissions could be announced when Brazil’s Vice President Hamilton Mourao visits Beijing later the same month, Yang said.

“We believe through the cooperation of both countries’ agriculture ministries and quality inspection departments, more Brazilian farm and animal products can be imported into the Chinese market,” Yang said.

Up to 78 Brazilian meat processing plants could be added to the list of those permitted to export to China, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The potential boost for Brazil’s meat exports to China comes as analysts warn that talks between the United States and China to ease trade tensions could hurt demand for Brazilian soy.

Brazil is the world’s top exporter of both soybeans and beef. Chinese purchases skyrocketed after the Asian country slapped tariffs on U.S. soy in response to other tariffs announced by President Donald Trump.

Regardless of whether a deal is struck, Yang said he sees Chinese demand for Brazilian soy remaining stable.

“I personally think there is no need to worry,” he said.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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