Ireland, one step closer to enter the Chinese lamb market
Ireland is ready to enter the Chinese sheepmeat market, as both parties signed a protocol that allows Irish producers to export sheepmeat to the giant Asian market and also breeding pigs. Charlie McConalogue, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Minister Ni of the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) have signed and exchanged formal protocols that will pave the way for the export of sheepmeat and breeding pigs from Ireland to China.
"The sheepmeat protocol that I have signed today represents an important milestone in gaining access to the Chinese market. China is a substantial importer of sheep meat, with a positive outlook for demand in the long term. I expect that, when the remaining steps are completed to enable trade to commence, exports will grow gradually over time, as Chinese consumers become familiar with the quality and taste of our Irish sheepmeat offering," declared Minister McConalogue.
Irish processing units were inspected by GACC auditors in August / September 2019 and it took 2 years until the protocol was signed. However, a number of technical steps remain before GACC can include the list of approved plants on their website. In addition, before trade can commence, DAFM will have to put in place systems and safeguards to ensure compliance with protocol requirements on eligible products. This may take a number of months. Meantime, live pig exports may start sooner as China is trying to restock its pig farms impacted by ASF outbreaks.
China accounts for 38% of the global sheepmeat import market. In 2020, China’s sheepmeat imports amounted 365,000 tonnes and were valued at €1.47bn at current exchange rates. Imports account for 8% of total sheep meat consumed in China and the supply gap is growing annually. Average prices for imported sheep meat in China have more than doubled over the last decade. Import prices in the first half of 2021 reached a record high, averaging €4.66/kg. Sheep meat accounts for 6% of Chinese meat consumption or 3.8kg per person. Although consumption peaks in winter, summer barbecues are popular also. Nationally, around two-thirds of sheep meat consumption occurs at foodservice in the form of barbecues, hotpots and stews.
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