The demand for Irish beef in China could kick off if there is an uptick in the Chinese economy, with the central building block of exports - market access - readily in place to cater for demand, according to Minister of State Martin Heydon.

The Chinese economy is currently in a slowdown, but previous beef export experience with China shows that demand can bounce upwards relatively quickly, Minister Heydon told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“If you talk about access paying off, we got beef into China. The Chinese economy is slower than you would like, so as quick as that picks up [the better],” he said.

“We saw when we gained access back in 2018 before the break that there is a lull and then it can build up very quickly.

“You are building relationships on the ground through Bord Bia, through our agencies, but getting access back is the first key in that.”

'Technical issues' getting lamb to the US

On Irish lamb hitting plates in the US, Minister Heydon stated that the goal remains for the “greatest amount of product” to get to US markets, but that technical issues with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) processing requirements continue to prevent the beginning of regular shipments there.

“Then you have issues like lamb into America where we gained the access after much work. It is really frustrating that we still haven’t got product in there,” the minister added.

“There is technical points that have to be worked through, that have to work for processors, to meet the specifications for the US, which are different for other markets.

“There are ways of solving this, whether it’s a US-only day within that factory and the factory will have enough markets to be able to supply that to.

“We will continue to work closely with Bord Bia and with industry to clear those hurdles.”


The goal of Minister Heydon, with responsibility for market development, is to continue to spread exports to markets beyond the UK, especially with the potential for even further competition for Irish exports to the UK from outside the EU.

"We continue to work to diversify our risk and to diversify our dependency on the UK market, which, when we see the trade deals they are doing with Australia and New Zealand, it is absolutely the place we need to position Irish agriculture is away from the dependency on the British market.”