AUSTRALIAN beef exporters are digesting news that Argentina’s access to China is to be expanded to include bone-in and chilled product.
International media outlets are reporting a bilateral agreement between the two countries has just been signed which includes a new sanitary protocol expanding Argentinian access from the current frozen boneless beef.
It is unclear how soon the agreement kicks in, with some reports quoting a time period of 15 years and others saying the first shipments of Argentine beef under the new protocol could be reaching China to participate in the major Imports Expo that takes place in November in Shanghai.
Sheepmeat is included in the agreement, Australian processors have been told.
According to Meat and Livestock Australia, the China beef market is a very competitive one and will become increasingly so as more countries are granted access.
Australia’s key competitor for frozen beef has been Brazil, which re-gained access mid-2015, and in 2016 already supplied almost 30 per cent of imported frozen beef. Uruguay has been a consistently significant supplier to China, with volumes increasing during 2016 and New Zealand and Argentina were listed as secondary suppliers.
The Meat Import Council of America (MICA) has reported the news, saying China is Argentina’s main market for its meat exports, with some 86,500 tons sent in 2017, mostly low cost cuts.
In 2017, Argentine beef sales to China were 75 per cent higher than in 2016, according to MICA.