Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has said that securing access to the Chinese market is a positive step for the Irish sheepmeat sector.

MII senior director Cormac Healy said: “China has shown a growing appetite for lamb in recent years and has become a major global import destination.

“This has been a positive and encouraging period for the Irish sheepmeat sector, which has seen record producer prices delivered throughout the year, reaching an €8/kg high earlier this year and currently running almost €1/kg ahead of prices this time last year,” said Healy.

MII said the main processing facilities were inspected by the Chinese veterinary authorities in August 2019 and that it looks forward to those being registered by the GACC in China.

Necessary steps

“Sheepmeat processors will continue to work with the Department of Agriculture to finalise the necessary steps, including animal health and veterinary SOPs, so that trade can commence,” Healy added.

MII also stressed the critical importance of securing a resumption of the beef export business to China and hoped that this recent engagement paves the way for progress on the beef file.

“The 15-month suspension of Ireland’s beef exports to China is a major loss to the entire beef sector in Ireland, just as sales to this exciting new market were set to ramp up,” he insisted.

The MII, the Ibec sector organisation representing the country’s main sheepmeat processing companies, welcomes the agreement of a sheepmeat export protocol with China.