Farm Ireland

Monday 19 March 2018

Chinese visit a shot in the arm for exports

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Momentum on increasing Irish food exports got a further shot in the arm last week, following the successful visit of another high-ranking Chinese official to key agri-food locations.

Vice-Minister Gao Hongbin, from China's Agriculture Ministry, began a four-day visit with a meeting and working dinner with Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney in the Dail.

Following this, officials announced a follow-up visit by key technical personnel in China's quarantine ministry, the AQSIQ, to Ireland in the next three weeks.

The hope is that, following an examination of the controls in beef production here by a full technical team, Ireland may be able to circumvent a ban on beef from the European Union entering China.

On Wednesday, Mr Gao's day was dominated by a visit to Teagasc Moorepark, where he was given tours of Irish cattle housing, milking systems and pasture-based milk production.


This was followed by detailed presentations of Irish progress on genomics in breeding, and an overview of cutting edge research facilities in the national imaging centre and biofunctional food engineering units.

On Thursday, Mr Gao is reported to have visited ABP's Cahir meat processing facility.

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While China is keen to establish more domestic plants with the latest in milk drying technology, their imports look set to hit new records as imports of infant formula, whey powder and skimmed-milk powder have grown by more than a third this year.

Greater domestic demand for dairy products, combined with lower tariffs on dairy products from New Zealand, a 4pc reduction of VAT on pasteurised and UHT milk and a stronger Chinese currency have all helped drive the country's imports.

New Zealand is the largest dairy supplier to China, accounting for 69pc of its imports. Ireland exported almost €130m of dairy produce to China last year, 22pc up on 2010.

Prices have also improved -- the average price of Irish whey powder sold in China in March 2012 was 39pc higher than that of March 2011.

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