IFA President Joe Healy travelled to China yesterday day as part of a Ministerial trade mission, following the opening of the Chinese market for Irish beef last month. He is joined by Livestock Chairman Angus Woods and Pigs Chairman Tom Hogan.
Joe Healy said, “With over half of our beef exports currently going to the UK, and Brexit looming large, it has never been more important to diversify and develop our markets and, in that context, China represents a huge opportunity. Securing a breakthrough on market access for Irish beef in April this year was a welcome development and positive news for the sector.”
Joe Healy said it is encouraging that Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan are leading these high level trade missions organised around the SIAL Fair in Shanghai China to promote Irish and European food and agriculture.
“China consumes one-quarter of the world’s meat supply, and imported 700,000 tonnes of beef in 2017. There is enormous potential for further rapid growth in consumer demand for beef, with consumption expected to double by 2020, driven by increasing urbanisation and rising incomes.”
Joe Healy said he would be using the trip as an opportunity to highlight the commitment of Irish farmers to producing high quality food to the highest standards, “The Irish agri-food industry has had considerable success in maximising the Chinese market for dairy, positioning Irish produce as a premium product. We hope to see this success replicated for beef.”
The value of Irish food and drink exports to mainland China and Hong Kong has more than doubled since 2013, and reached €907m last year.
“To capture a substantial market share in the Chinese beef market, it is very important that eligibility is secured for all Irish beef products and not just frozen boneless beef. It is essential that the market opportunity is not restrictive and the protocol is developed to allow beef products from all Irish livestock.”
Joe Healy said The Chinese market has become an important market for Irish pigmeat product over the last number of years with exports to China growing to almost €100m in 2017. He said, the opportunity exists to grow this further and to take advantage of the recent Chinese decision to impose tariffs on pork originating in the US.
In addition, dairy exports to China reached €666m in 2017, with infant formula being the major export product. 13% of all infant formula sold in China in 2017 was Irish.