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US Officials, Meat Exporters Applaud US Beef's Return to China

30 June 2017

US - Visiting officials and representatives of meat exporters from the United States celebrated the return of US beef to China in Beijing on Friday, 30 June, as suppliers in both countries race to be first to fill the tables of local customers.

"We can provide safe quality food product to consumers here in China. It's a key part of improving our relationship and reducing our trade deficit," said US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad at the ceremony. "The return of the US beef to China is an example of how cooperation between our two countries can yield results."

China has emerged as a major beef buyer in recent years, with imports increasing from $275 million in 2012 to $2.5 billion in 2016. However, US has been banned from China's market after mad-cow disease was found in Washington State in 2003.

US beef producers are optimistic about rebuilding US beef's image and presence in China's market. "We have a lot of quality beef in the U.S. All we need is access to showcase our beef and we would let the consumers of China decide if they like it. I think it can be win-win for Chinese consumers as well as US beef producers," Craig Uden, President of the US National Cattlemen Association, told People's Daily Online.

A set of stringent requirements are applied to US beef imports. Beef must be from cattle less than 30 months of age; must be born and raised in the US, Mexico, or Canada; must be slaughtered in the US; and must be free of growth promotants, feed additives, and other chemical compounds, including ractopamine.

The landscape of China's retail sector has changed dramatically over the years with heavier reliance on e-shopping, meaning suppliers from both countries can ride the wave by using e-commerce platforms and social media to lure customers.

Womai.com, the online grocery store run by China's largest food trader COFCO, added two categories of US beef products to its offerings just hours after inspection by local customs last Friday, which means residents of Beijing were the first in China to chew on some US beef.

Shanghai is the second Chinese city where the US beef imports landed. Prime rib, shipped from Nebraska, has already been available on Fruitday, China's leading fresh produce e-retailer, since Wednesday.

US meat packers are also catching up with their Chinese peers. Nebraska's Greater Omaha and Iowa's Tyson Foods inked an agreement with Alibaba in early June, which will enable the two suppliers to expand share in China's beef market through Tmall, a brand-to-customer online marketplace owned by Alibaba.

TheCattleSite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock



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