A Chinese delegation has visited Dawn Meats’ Carroll’s Cross plant in Co. Waterford to tour the facility and learn more about the Irish beef industry as part of Marketplace 2015.

The 14 Chinese leaders are in Ireland to take part in Bord Bia’s Marketplace 2015, a business development event aimed at building global trade relationships with Irish food and drink retailers, foodservice buyers, ingredient buyers and distributors.

China recently lifted its ban on Irish beef imports to the country.

Dawn Meats says that the volume of beef imported by China quadrupled to 280,000t in 2013, and is forecast to reach 1.7m tonnes in 2018. The company was one of the companies on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney’s trade mission to China in November 2014.

Niall Browne, Chief Executive of Dawn Meats said that the company is excited about the potential scale of the opportunity in China and this visit will help strengthen the strong commercial relationships we have been building in advance of the market opening.

“The expected level of Chinese beef imports in 2018 is over three times total Irish production. In a country where pork and poultry have in the past dominated meat consumption, the recent dramatic increase in demand for beef is a sign of the opportunity for Ireland.

“Minister Coveney is to be congratulated on the work the government has done to open up this market, but there still remain considerable practicalities to be resolved before actual shipments can start,” he said.

The Executive Vice President and Secretary General of the China Meat Association, Wei Chen, said that the association was pleased to visit Dawn Meats to find out more about the quality, efficiency and sustainability of the production methods being used.

” I look forward to sharing information about the Irish beef industry with colleagues and partners back home, and I am optimistic that the trade relationships between our two countries will develop positively in the months ahead,” he said.

Aidan Cotter, CEO of Bord Bia, said that as part of the build up to Bord Bia’s Marketplace event on March 26, Bord Bia is taking visiting buyers on tours to see the best of what Ireland’s food and drink industry has to offer.

“This visit to Dawn Meats’ facility is a great way of showing our Chinese visitors the high standards of quality and safety to which Irish producers operate. Marketplace will help over 400 food and drink trade buyers from 30 countries to meet, and do business, with Irish food and drink producers,” she said.

Dawn Meats’ 40,000 square foot facility contains the longest freezer line of its kind in Europe, and features the very latest energy efficiency technology, including wind and solar power, the company says.