Chinese Pork and Poultry Problems Drive Beef Demand

CHINA - In the wake of the H7N9 avian flu outbreak in China earlier this year, which cost the Chinese poultry industry some €5 billion through culling and a dramatic fall-off in consumption when poultry was removed from menus, and a public distrust of pork following the discovery of thousands of pig carcasses floating in Shanghai’s main river, many Chinese are turning to beef as an alternative meat, according to Nick McIlroy from Bord Bia- Irish Food Board, Shanghai Office.
calendar icon 3 June 2013
clock icon 2 minute read

Traditionally the meat of China’s ethnic Muslim minorities, at 4.2kg per capita, annual consumption of beef in China is considered low by European standards.

However, recent data from China Customs (see chart) indicates huge growth in demand for beef in China in recent months.

The official full-year figures for 2012 indicate China imported 68,000 tonnes of beef, a figure which was surpassed already in April this year.

Importantly, official Chinese statistics do not reflect the considerable trade in beef through parallel import channels based in Hong Kong.

The surge in Chinese demand for beef was evidenced by strong interest from some of China’s biggest beef processors at SIAL China earlier this month. Bord Bia’s ‘Ireland Pavilion’ at Asia’s largest food expo this year hosted three Irish beef suppliers, all of whom registered an unprecedented number of queries about their products, ranging from primal cuts to offals.

With the lion’s share of Chinese beef imports currently coming from Australia, increased consumer demand for beef may see opportunities for other countries seeking access to the Chinese market.

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