The Minister continued: "Our agri-food exports to China have increased roughly five-fold from around €200 million in 2010 to almost €1 billion a year ago".
The opening of this key market presents an excellent opportunity for the Irish beef sector, from farmers through to processors, in line with the market development theme of our Food Wise strategy.
China - which has threatened tariffs on United States beef imports, amid growing Beijing-Washington tensions - has opened itself up to purchases from the European Union, is poised to approve supplies from three Irish plants.
Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed announced the access following prolonged talks with the Chinese authorities. The importance of the beef sector to the Irish Agri-food economy can not be underestimated and it is a sector which must be supported develop its benefit to the primary producer.
In February, ABP signed a €50 million deal to supply beef to the restaurant chain Wowprime in self-ruled Taiwan, as well as the Chinese mainland.
In 2016, China became the world's second-largest beef importer behind the United States, importing 800,000 metric tons worth $2.6 billion.
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China in 2016 became the world's second-ranked beef importer, with volumes of 812,000 tonnes, and purchases of 1.20m tonnes would enhance its lead over third-placed Japan, expected to purchase 832,000 tonnes of beef this year. It is the culmination of years of talks between Ireland and China and the result of a "huge effort by Team Ireland", said the Minister.
Average Chinese beef consumption per capita is 4kg, compared to 19kg in Ireland, so there is potential for expansion.
The minister said: "I firmly believe that our beef industry can and will compete effectively in the Chinese market and I look forward to the opportunities that this access will bring".
A formal agreement to lift the ban on Irish beef was agreed in 2015, making Ireland the first country in the European Union with permission to sell back into China. "I am hopeful that a number of other Irish beef plants will not be too far behind", he said.
The department will complete the final technicalities to allow trade to begin in the coming weeks.