Agri-foods giant Cargill told this site it “may” start exporting beef to China, one of the world’s largest beef and pork importers.
This comes after trade officials finalised rules governing traceability and the types of beef eligible for export – the final step toward lifting China’s 14-year ban on US beef.
With export requirements in place, US meat processors are said to be scrambling to get their factories green-lit to ship beef to China’s $2.6bn beef import market.
‘We will comply’ with China
A Cargill spokesperson said: “Only a small percentage of the total current US cattle supply will qualify for beef products that are exported to China under the terms of the new agreement. For any beef we may ship to China, Cargill will comply with all of the requirements in the agreement.”
With final details governing eligibility requirements agreed, the final hurdle to getting product on supermarket shelves is finding American factories licensed to send beef to China.
Nebraska-firm Greater Omaha Packing has claimed to have shipped the first container of US beef to China since the reopening of the market. CEO Henry Davis said Chinese officials visited the business while on a whistle-stop September tour through Nebraska that appeared to influence China’s decision to drop its trade ban.
However, a spokesperson for the North American Meat institute (NAMI) said: “There is strong desire among many of our beef-packer members to ship product [to China].”
Businesses looking to ship beef to China have to complete an application and send it to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for approval.