Irish beef entered China for the first time in almost three years on Monday after an ABP shipment landed in Shanghai port.

The shipment follows the Department of Agriculture's confirmation last January that Irish beef exports to China could resume after the Chinese suspension imposed in May 2020 was lifted.

The suspension came on the back of an isolated case of atypical BSE in Ireland.


Irish beef exports to the market were worth €40m 2019 - the last full year of trade - and this value was rising before exports were stopped.

The shipment comes two weeks after Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Martin Heydon led an agri-food trade mission to China which engaged with Bord Bia and Irish exporters on getting back into the Chinese markets.

The shipment landed in Shanghai on Monday. / Bord Bia

Extensive Bord Bia campaign

Bord Bia’s Shanghai office stated that the agency is running an extensive campaign on relaunching and promoting Irish beef into the market.

“We are delighted to welcome Irish beef back into the Chinese market after a suspension of almost three years,” its China manager Conor O’Sullivan said on Monday.

“Bord Bia is now engaged in an Irish beef relaunch campaign focusing on trade seminars, chef demonstrations, and media engagement.”

The agency is to exhibit at the China International Meat Industry Exhibition (CIMIE) and SIAL China tradeshows over the coming month to showcase Irish beef to Chinese buyers.

Food service sector buyers purchase an estimated six in every 10t of beef sold on Chinese markets and will be the focus of much of Bord Bia’s promotion efforts.

“After first entering in 2018, Ireland quickly established a reputation as a leading supplier of grass-fed beef in China,” O’Sullivan continued.

“We had a lot of success building market share into higher value foodservice and retail channels. We are eager to regain that significant momentum in China.”

Quality beef

A key trend for these food service buyers has been to sell imported beef, according to Bord Bia’s insight and planning specialist for Asia Evelyn Chiang.

Tapping into outlets offering premium imported beef open up opportunities for the Irish beef sector, Chinag said.

“Chinese consumers highly value the quality of their food ingredients and the quality of imported beef is highly regarded, presenting a significant opportunity for Irish beef suppliers,” she commented.

“Hot-pot restaurants, steakhouses and barbecue restaurants are all seeking high-quality and reliable imported beef, which is great news for Irish companies in the market.”

High-end retailers pose more opportunities for Irish beef and its grass-fed selling point.

“This rise of e-commerce and specialised stores is part of the changing consumption patterns in China’s expanding middle class, which puts a premium on health and taste,” Chiang explained.

“This trend is an excellent fit for Ireland’s grass-fed, sustainably produced beef.”

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