U.S. beef market opening to China, poultry industry remains hopeful

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 565 views 

It’s been nearly 14 years since U.S. beef could export to China but that’s about to change. The announcement came Friday (May 12) that the ban on U.S. beef exports to China will end July 16.

“After being locked out of the world’s largest market for 13 years, we strongly welcome the announcement that an agreement has been made to restore U.S. beef exports to China,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Craig Uden. “We look forward to providing nearly 1.4 billion new customers in China with the same safe and delicious US beef that we feed our families. I look forward to the day when we can serve President Trump and President Xi a dry-aged American-made New York strip in Beijing.”

He said it’s nearly impossible to overstate how beneficial this will be for U.S. cattlemen.

The North American Meat Institute said the Chinese market is estimated to be worth $2.6 billion for the U.S. beef industry. Asian countries already make up some of the largest markets for U.S. beef with Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan making up four of the top six export markets, accounting for $3.6 billion in value in 2016.

“The meat industry has long sought access to the Chinese market for U.S. beef, making today’s announcement a significant and very welcome milestone,” said Meat Institute Chairman Mike Townsley. “High quality beef is in high demand in China, so the deal has great potential for both our businesses and the U.S. economy as a whole.”

NAMI President Barry Carpenter thanked President Donald Trump for his help to end the ban.

“The beef deal is a significant, concrete accomplishment resulting from the 100-day plan established by President Trump and President Xi at their summit. We are thankful for the hard work on the issue by both leaders.”

Springdale-based Tyson Foods would benefit from an open beef market in China as one of the nation’s largest meat packers. And although it has a small in-country chicken operation in China, lifting the export ban on chicken would also benefit the meat giant and its U.S. chicken competitors.

“We’re encouraged by the announced agreement with China and how this may benefit our beef business and the independent cattle producers who supply us,” said Tyson Foods spokesman Gary Mickelson. “We’re awaiting more details about how the agreement will be implemented. Beef exports generated $2 billion in sales for our company in fiscal 2016. We rely on our U.S. poultry operations and thousands of American family farmers to supply our U.S. chicken customers. We do not import chicken from China and have no plans to going forward.”

U.S. chicken has been blocked by China since January 2015, when the country issued a blanket ban on all U.S. poultry over issues related to avian influenza.  Poultry exports to China peaked in 2008, with an export value of $722 million.

As the U.S. beef market is opened to China, the poultry industry remains hopeful they will be next. It’s been more than two years since U.S. chicken companies could export chicken into China. Chicken feet would be main part of the bird sought by the Chinese given its popularity throughout Asia.

”This announcement is a positive development and a testament to the administration’s work to break down some of the existing obstacles that have been preventing U.S. chicken from regaining access to the Chinese market,” said National Chicken Council President Mike Brown. “With the announcement of U.S. beef access to China, we encourage the administration to continue their work to remove China’s obstacles preventing U.S. broiler access to their marketplace.

“NCC and our members support free and fair trade,” Brown added. “In order to be effective, free trade must operate as a two-way street. I am optimistic that as our negotiators continue the dialogue with China, U.S. broiler access issues will be resolved expeditiously.”