Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 24 October 2018

What does the Chinese beef deal mean for Ireland?

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Demand for meat in China has quadrupled over the last 30 years. However, beef consumption would be considered relatively low at 4kg per person per year, compared to 19kg per person in Ireland.

However, there has been steady growth in consumer demand for beef, as the middle class has higher disposable income and there is increased urbanisation.

Figures show beef imports to China have increased from under 100,000 tonnes in 2012 to around 700,000 tonnes last year.

It is expected to double by 2020.

Frozen boneless beef accounts for around 80pc of imports.

Total Irish agri-food trade exports to China reached €974m last year, and it is now Ireland’s third-largest market overall.

Dairy exports have led the way, valued at €667m, while pigmeat exports were more than €100m. However, seafood and other food and drink exports are also growing.

How much beef will Ireland export?

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Both processors and Agriculture Minister Michael Creed were reluctant to put a figure on export levels.

However, it has been signalled as a “very significant beef market”, particularly with a middle class whose appetite for beef is growing.

After the BSE ban was lifted three years ago, then-Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney signalled that the market could be worth €100m in its infancy.

Which products have been approved and would you expect this to expand?

Initially the approval is for frozen, boneless beef.

However, the Agriculture Minister has signalled that it may be possible to expand the range of products over time.

Processors are eager to get access for on-the-bone beef, plus the valuable ‘fifth quarter’, or offal.

When is the first consignment of beef expected to depart for China?

The department is completing the final technicalities to allow trade to begin in the coming weeks.

The normal transport time for a container shipment to China is about six weeks.

However, the approved plants may have some other technicalities to deal with, which could include the testing requirements.

How many applications for access to the Chinese market were there?

In total there were 25 applications for access to the Chinese market.

What does it mean for the remaining plants that submitted applications?

The first three Irish plants to be approved are the Goodman-owned ABP Clones, in Co Monaghan, Slaney Foods, in Co Wexford, and Foyle Meats, in Co Donegal.

A further five factories were also audited, and work will continue to ensure the approval of ABP Nenagh, Kepak Clonee, Liffey Meats, Dawn Meats Charleville and Kildare Chilling.

The other plants out of the 25 that applied have yet to be audited. The department said that officials will continue to work towards access for all applicants.


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