China’s demand for beef imports has boomed in recent years, but the U.S. has remained shut out of the growing market.
“We have not had access to the Chinese market since the advent of BSE in the United States 13 years ago,” says Phillip Seng, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
That's a problem for American agribusiness. “China is one of the fastest-growing protein markets in the world whether you talk pork, beef or even fish and poultry," Seng says. "The amount of consumption that is going on there is phenomenal."
He sat down with AgriTalk to discuss how USMEF is trying to change that situation, working with the beef industry and government officials to meet the criteria for exporting beef to China. (Those rules are similar to what is required to export meat to the E.U.)
Listen to Seng's conversation about U.S. meat access to Chinese markets here:
Traceability of beef from the U.S. has been an issue for China, along with the use of beta agonists and hormone implants.
Cracking the Chinese market has not been easy. Nearly four years ago, the U.S. received some good news when OIE, the World Organization for Animal Health, declared U.S. beef to be of negligible risk, but the market remained closed. “It has always been difficult to have the Chinese abide by international standards,” Seng adds.
American pork producers have encountered similar challenges because of feed additive use. But the market appears to hold opportunity for U.S. producers; pork prices in China are roughly double the cost of U.S. prices, so Seng thinks that American pork products could be competitive in the Chinese market.
The beef market might pose the most potential. “Last year, the Chinese beef market grew the fastest of any market in the world,” says Seng, with beef imports outpacing pork imports to China.
USMEF estimates loss of U.S. beef imports into China costs cattlemen roughly $100 per head in carcass value.
What do you think of China's stance on imports of U.S. beef and pork? How important is this to American ranchers and U.S. exports? Let us know in the comments.