The visits by buyers, journalists and bloggers have come about after the lifting of a decades-old export ban.

For 20 years, Irish beef exports to China were banned due to fears over BSE. The lifting of the ban came about in April 2018, but trade only began in earnest towards the end of the summer. After stringent auditing procedures, Foyle became one of the first Irish companies to send 25 tonnes of frozen beef to Shanghai as part of an initial weekly deal that looks set to grow significantly.

Rising incomes are fuelling unprecedented demand for premium beef in Chinese markets and consumption of beef is expected to hit 8 million tonnes per annum by 2020.

In 2016, China became the world’s second largest beef importer behind the USA. Chinese reliance on imports grew in 2017, when beef consumption rose by 4%, outstripping domestic production, which increased by just 1%.

The potential for the Irish beef industry is perfectly illustrated by a partnership with just two of China’s online food retailers – Alibaba’s Tmall Supermarket and Yiguo Fresh – which was launched in July and puts Irish product in front of a market worth €3.75m per annum.

In addition, Chinese demand for less popular cuts make this a perfect complementary outlet with potential to improve efficiencies across the industry at home.

Building relationships and demonstrating the incredible quality of Irish beef is key to the continued growth of these markets. Foyle is honoured to have partnered with Bord Bia to welcome several delegations of Chinese visitors keen to see for themselves the stunning pastures, natural farming methods, superior welfare and advanced accountability that make our beef unique in terms of both quality and flavour.