Business Irish

Monday 22 October 2018

Beef rivals to follow Ireland into China

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed

Claire Fox in Shanghai

France and the Netherlands could gain beef access to China in the coming weeks and months, but the market is big enough for everyone, says Agriculture Minister Michael Creed.

Other European Union suppliers gaining access to the Chinese beef market may signal concerns for Irish beef producers looking to export there but Mr Creed said there was enough room for more than one EU country - and Ireland has the advantage of being the first to gain access.

"This market is a 1.3 billion population. There's more than enough here for everybody. We're ahead. We're the biggest net exporter of beef in the northern hemisphere and the EU. A lot of the others are producing substantially to a domestic market.

"France is a big producer but its exports are mostly already being circulated in the EU. For us this market is hugely important in the context of Brexit and exposure of the British market, but the French don't have that exposure. I suspect that we will get a bigger market share but there is enough here for everyone," he said.

At the SIAL trade show in Shanghai EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said that he hoped other EU countries would soon follow Ireland.

"There is a high expectation in the coming weeks that France and the Netherlands will have an opportunity to export beef products here in the Chinese market," he said.

Irish meat companies including ABP, Dawn Meats, Kepak and Liffey Meats met buyers at the Bord Bia Origin Green stand at the show in the Shanghai New International Expo centre.

ABP Group's €50m three-year beef deal with Chinese food service supplier Wowprime is a hedge against Brexit, Mark Goodman said.

He was speaking at the signing of the deal in Shanghai yesterday. With uncertainty around Brexit and a possible Mercosur deal, the contract with Wowprime helps "risk-proof", he said.

"The main thing about the Chinese deal is that it's an excellent hedge against the downside risk of Brexit and we're looking at possible Mercosur which could increase imports from South America, so it's a hedge against risk," he said.

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