Donegal Meats gains access to Chinese market

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"The opening of this key market presents an excellent opportunity for the Irish beef sector, from farmers through to processors, in line with the market development theme of our Food Wise strategy", said Minister Creed. China is Ireland's third-largest market overall.

Creed said agri-food exports to China increased roughly five-fold from around €200 million in 2010 to almost €1 billion past year.

They banned beef from the European Union and United States during the BSE crisis in 2000, and while that ban was officially lifted three years ago, trade still hasn't resumed.

Irish business leaders have hailed the opening of China to Irish beef companies, but said that more producers must gain access to take full advantage of the market.

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Imports to China have increased from under 100,000 tonnes in 2012 to about 600,000 tonnes in 2016.

Trade growth between Ireland and China clocked up a bigger percentage growth than with any other country a year ago, at 37 per cent.

The demand for meat products in China has grown rapidly in recent years, and the country now consumes one-quarter of the world's supply.

Minister Creed will lead a trade mission to China next month to further built trade relationships with Ireland and continue dialogue with the Chinese government.

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"We have a number of plants that are now approved - we hope to have others approved shortly - and it is up to those plants to build their market contacts out there". Consumption is on the rise and an average annual increase of just 1kg per capita would equate to an additional 1.38 million tonnes of beef per annum.

Ireland's meat processors and Agriculture Minister Michael Creed highlighted the strong potential of the changing consumers' appetites in the Far East, where beef imports are expected to double by 2020.

When asked what the message is now to Irish farmers, he said: "The message is, there are exacting demands in global markets and here is another really, really important market - probably the single biggest in volume terms - which is recognising that we are capable of meeting those exacting and demanding standards".

The department will complete the final technicalities to allow trade to commence in the coming weeks.

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