Chinese market approval 'an important breakthrough' for Irish beef

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Ireland is to be first European Union country to export beef to China, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed has announced.

Commenting on the matter, Healy said: "This is an important breakthrough for the Irish beef sector and comes after many years of extensive efforts by both the Government and the industry to secure access to the rapidly growing Chinese beef import market".

There are hopes that approvals for five more will follow soon.

Despite this, our exports to China were worth nearly a billion Euro past year and Minister Creed says this move will give farmers access to the biggest market on the planet.

These include the ABP plant in Clones in Co Monaghan, Donegal Meat Processors and Slaney Foods in Co Wexford.

"The Department of Agriculture and the Minister must ensure that emergencies like the fodder crisis do not affect Ireland's ability to supply new markets and I urge the Department to implement an adequate monitoring of conditions affecting the sector and not risk a disruption of supply due to weather or feed crises".

"Over 50% of our beef goes to the United Kingdom, over 250,000 tonnes, so obviously given the fact that we don't know what the future access to that market is going to be, part of our Brexit strategy has been about looking for new markets", he said.

"The opening of Irish beef access is testimony to our industry's strength, reputation and proven track record in the Chinese market", she said.

"This decision also represents a powerful endorsement of Ireland's high standards by the Chinese administration, for which food safety is a prerequisite for trade".

"I understand that the Chinese authorities will list a number of our beef establishments within the next few days", said Mr Creed. Frozen boneless beef accounts for about 80 per cent of these imports.

They are ABP in Nenagh, Kepak Clonee, Liffey Meats, Dawn Meats Charleville and Kildare Chilling.

"Primarily it's a triumph for our beef farmers because they're producing quality, " the minister added.

"This is a market of almost 1.5 billion people so a small part of that market can deliver huge rewards", Creed said.