CHINA has made the decision to open its markets to Irish beef following years of unsuccessful negotiations.
The news was confirmed by Minister of Agriculture Michael Creed this morning.
Both China and the US had refused to sell beef from the EU since 2001 due to fears relating to the spread of mad cow disease.
Ireland was granted a licence to sell to the US three years ago.
Recently, Chinese officials have visited meat plants and cattle farms in Ireland to assess quality and facility standards as they considered opening up their market to Irish beef imports.
After a formal agreement to lift the ban was made in 2015, the Chinese administration has now given the green light for trade to recommence.
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.
The average beef consumption per capita every year is 4kg, compared to the average Irish consumption of 19kg per person.
In a statement released this morning, Creed said: “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.
“Opening and developing new markets is also a key part of our response to the uncertainties arising from Brexit.
“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.”
As a result of increasing urbanisation and higher disposable income, consumer demand for premium imported beef is forecast to rise over the coming years, which could see Irish agri-food exports increase dramatically.