14 May 2018
By Bryan Smyth
On the first day of the Trade Mission to China, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD met with his counterpart, the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Minister Han Changfu, and also the Minister for a newly established Chinese Agency, the State Market Regulatory Administration, Minister Zhang Mao.
Speaking from Beijing Minister Creed said:
“These were incredibly productive meetings with excellent results. A number of additional Irish beef plants and one additional pork plant have now met the required approval standards to export to China. This brings to six the number of Irish beef plants that will initially be able to export beef. It is intended to complete the final administrative details to register these plants shortly. We also held preliminary discussions around the issues of approval for additional plants as well as the prospect of sheep meat access”
The trade mission comes after the announcement in April of the Chinese market opening for Irish beef. Despite increases in domestic beef production in China, consumer demand for premium imported beef is forecast to rise significantly, driven by increasing urbanisation, higher disposable incomes and health awareness.
Ireland has had pig-meat access to China for over 10 years and China has now become the second largest export market. Pig-meat exports were over €100 million in 2017. The Minister also noted:
“As well as the progress achieved in relation to our beef plants, I am very pleased that another pig-meat plant has also met the approval standards for China. This means that all our major pig-meat export plants will be eligible for export. China is the world’s largest pig-meat consumer and pork remains the main form of meat consumed here in China.”
This trade mission provides the Minister and the Irish industry with a vital opportunity to further develop contacts with Chinese Ministers, Government officials, importers and retailers, and also to promote quality Irish food. The Minister said:
“The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and other agencies are undergoing major structural changes here at present. It has been very useful to get a first hand overview of how these structures will operate as this will enhance our relations and market access work in future. Both Ministers agreed on the establishment of an official agriculture working group as part of an agreed comprehensive partnership between Ireland and China which will exchange information in the areas of food safety, sustainability, livestock production and rural development.”
The Minister also had a number of agri-tech meetings organised in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland including with Bimeda, Alltech and Dairymaster.
Day one concluded with a trade reception the at Embassy of Ireland, hosted by Ambassador Eoin O’Leary and Bord Bia, attended by trade mission delegates, Irish and Chinese media and local business leaders. Speaking at this business networking reception in the Irish Embassy Minister Creed said:
“It is a very exciting time for Chinese-Irish relations. I am delighted that we are serving Irish beef here today. We are extremely proud of the quality of our beef, and I am very pleased that it will be available here in the near future.”
Note for Editors:
Total Irish agri-food trade exports to China reached €974 million last year. China is now our third largest market overall. Dairy exports reached €667 million and pig-meat exports were over €100 million in 2017. These were the two largest categories of food exported to China, and for both of these commodities China was the second largest destination market (CSO trade statistics). China is also a growing market for seafood and other food and drink exports.
Within the last 30 years Chinese demand for meat has quadrupled, and the country now consumes one quarter of the world’s meat supply. On average Chinese beef consumption per capita is 4kg, compared to average Irish consumption of 19kg of beef per capita per year. However, despite increases in domestic beef production in China, consumer demand for premium imported beef is forecast to rise significantly, driven by increasing urbanisation, higher disposable incomes and health awareness. For example, the import of frozen boneless beef, the category for which Ireland will have market access, has grown nine-fold within the last five years. Overall beef imports to China have increased from under 100,000 tonnes in 2012 to around 600,000 tonnes in 2016. Frozen boneless beef accounts for around 80% of these imports.