My officials continue to work towards opening and enhancing access to as many markets as possible. This is a key part of our response to the challenges and uncertainty posed by Brexit, and in line with the market development theme of the Food Wise 2025 strategy.
The Chinese market for Irish beef was opened in April 2018 and represented the culmination of significant work over a number of years. I am pleased that seven Irish beef plants are currently approved to export beef to China. By gaining access to the Chinese market, we have opened a very significant beef market for the industry. It is now up to the industry, with the assistance of my Department and Bord Bia, to avail of this opportunity.
According to Central Statistics Office (CSO) trade statistics, Ireland exported approximately €2.8 million (1,400 tonnes) of beef to China in 2018, with exports only commencing during the summer. This indicates that Irish beef companies are beginning to gain a foothold in the Chinese market.
In addition, Ireland has had beef access to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China for some time, and exported the following amounts over the last five years:
- €62.186 million (19,289 tonnes) in 2018
- €76.580 million (25,543 tonnes) in 2017
- €42.883 million (16,035 tonnes) in 2016
- €31.223 million (9,952 tonnes) in 2015
- €52.138 million (17,430 tonnes) in 2014
With regard to 2019, according to CSO trade statistics, Ireland exported approximately €1.9 million (695 tonnes) to China in the two month period January/ February which represents a very positive start to the year and I hope that this growth trend will continue throughout 2019. Exports to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region amounted to €9.7 million (3,400 tonnes) during the same period.