DUBLIN, Ireland - The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed is in China this week spearheading an agri-food trade mission.
The Irish delegation is visiting the cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Hohhot.
"I am delighted to be leading my third trade mission to China which will strengthen and develop the existing important relationship between Ireland and China in relation to agri-food," Creed said in advance of his visit.
"This mission will concentrate on building on our existing strong relationships with Government and regulatory agencies, progressing market access for key products, and providing opportunities for Irish meat and dairy companies in particular to foster relationships with key Chinese partners."
Total agri-food exports to China in 2018 amounted to almost €800 million, a nearly fourfold increase from €200 million in 2010, according to CSO trade statistics (which include non-edible exports such as forestry as well as food and drinks). Dairy products accounted for 68% (€541 million) of total exports, built on Ireland’s reputation as a leading producer of high quality, safely and sustainably produced dairy products. Pigmeat is another important category, with export value having increased to €77 million last year.
Following the announcement of Irish beef access in April 2018, there are now seven Irish plants approved to export beef to China. Exports of Irish beef commenced in the summer 2018 and by the end of 2018 around €2.8 million (1,400 tonnes) had been exported, with significant potential for future growth.
"I look forward to engaging with my Chinese counterparts in relation to the process for approval of a number of additional beef plants, as well as progressing discussions on the next steps in the path towards sheepmeat access," the minister said.
Mr Creed is being accompanied by senior officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and from Bord Bia, plus participation from many of Ireland's leading dairy and meat companies.
"As well as offering government to government engagement, this Trade Mission will be vital in building enduring commercial relationships between Irish exporters and Chinese suppliers. Underlining the strategic importance of the region to the Irish food and drink industry, Bord Bia has completed over 500 hours of qualitative research studies in the region to identify the most profitable route to market for Irish producers. These insights also inform our on-going consumer and trade campaigns in China which includes online promotions, inward buyer visits, and EU co-funded campaigns, while through Origin Green, we have verifiable evidence of the ability of our producers and 66,000 plus certified farmers to provide quality, safe and sustainable food," Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy said.