From Emerald Isle to Far East: Liffey Meats’ Optimistic Forecast for Irish Beef in China

“Liffey Meats joins Bord Bia mission to China, explores opportunities for Irish beef at SIAL Shanghai”
From Emerald Isle to Far East: Liffey Meats' Optimistic Forecast for Irish Beef in China

Liffey Meats, an Irish-based beef processing company, was present at SIAL Shanghai as part of the Bord Bia trade mission to China. Paul McPhillips, the global business development manager of Liffey Meats, spoke with Agriland at the SIAL world food trade fair in China. McPhillips shared his views on the opportunities for Irish beef in the Chinese market. He expressed that Irish beef exporters are “delighted the market has reopened” and noted that “it was a very important market for Irish beef in 2018 and 2019”. However, McPhillips explained that the market dynamics have changed significantly since then, stating that “conditions are currently a lot more challenging”.

McPhillips elaborated that it is difficult to compete with South America and Brazil in particular, but he remains optimistic that the situation will improve. He believes that there are currently a few beef cuts that may be feasible in the Chinese market, such as boneless short ribs, naval-end brisket, and beef shin and shank. He further explained that the peak demand from the Chinese market is expected “towards the end of the summer”.

According to McPhillips, Chinese beef imports are highest from August to October due to their period of chief consumption, which is from January to February for the Chinese new year. He said that “they’re buying in with a mind of having full warehouses in the run-up to Chinese new year, and to be ready for the end of January, they’re buying from August onwards.”

McPhillips shared that Irish beef is used in both “the grocer trade and in restaurants” in China. In 2019, beef knuckle was working and being used in retail. Topsides were also ending up in retail, and navel-end briskets were being used in hot-pot restaurants. For use in hot-pot restaurants, beef is sliced thinly like ham and is cooked and eaten at the dining table.

In conclusion, McPhillips stated that “the appetite is there for Irish beef, but some other regions of the world are just too cheap for beef. We are hopeful that the Chinese market will show an increased appetite for Irish beef in the second half of the year.” Liffey Meats is optimistic about the future of Irish beef in China, despite the current challenges in the market.