UK's problem is opportunity for Irish exports to China
Dairy ban opens door to exporters
A BAN slapped on British dairy products by the Chinese government opens up a major multi-billion euro opportunity for Irish dairy companies exporting there.
Britain last week failed an inspection by Chinese government authorities, resulting in its imports being blocked under new food safety laws.
Food safety scandals, including one where contaminated infant formula caused deaths, mean foods like dairy products sell at a premium in China, with baby formula costing five times more there than in Ireland.
Chinese government inspectors visited Ireland in April and audited several dairy producers as well as visiting farms here, the Department of Agriculture confirmed.
At midnight last Thursday the Chinese government published a list of companies approved to sell dairy products in China. Thirty-three Irish firms got on it, while no British dairy-makers made it. Ireland was one of the few countries that managed to get 100 per cent of its companies over the line for this critical approval.
It's a coup for the Department of Agriculture, which has been on a 10-month charm offensive with Beijing to get Irish companies on the list, dealing deftly with a situation described as "highly political" with Chinese government authorities.
In a move considered disastrous for its China trade, New Zealand, which has an €8bn dairy produce export business in China, has also hit serious problems, as only six of its 13 infant formula-making companies were approved to sell products there under new regulations.
The approval, coupled with the end of milk quotas, means that Ireland is also well placed to steal a slice of New Zealand's trade and head for a €1bn-plus dairy export trade with China in coming years, a department insider told the Sunday Independent.