Ireland a 'gateway to Europe' for China


RISING LIVING standards make China a land of opportunity for Irish food companies seeking new markets, and Ireland was a potential partner in Europe, the chairman of one of China’s top meat processors has said.

“Ireland can be a gateway to Europe for us,” said Zhu Yicai, who is chairman of Yurun group, a Hong Kong-listed pork processor based in Nanjing in Jiangsu province. Yurun translates as “raining wealth and health”.

“People’s living standards are rising very fast and demand for high quality food is also rising,” said Mr Zhu, who is listed in Forbes magazine Billionaires List and is chairman of the Nanjing chamber of commerce.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney yesterday visited Yurun’s plant in the Jiangsu capital. He had met Mr Zhu during a visit to Ireland five months ago.

“These endorsements from people like Mr Zhu count for a lot and he absolutely wanted to partner with Ireland,” Mr Coveney said.

“We have built up a significant relationship. They are planning to send 30 vets to Ireland, they are buying more horses and they are looking at investing in Ireland. We are also talking about facilitating a research centre.”

Yurun works with the Leitrim-based Rosderra Irish Meats Group.

Meanwhile, University College Dublin has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a leading Chinese dairy producer, Dairy United.

The memorandum, which is expected to yield multi-million euro contracts for products and services, envisages the development of a China-Ireland Agricultural demonstration farm in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, collaborative research projects, the provision of education, and training services, and collaboration on the creation of a trade corridor to facilitate the introduction of Irish exporters to the Inner Mongolian region.

“The MOU paves the way for a range of Enterprise Ireland client companies across the agri-services sector to provide world-class agri-technology and services to the China market,” said Julie Sinnamon, executive director of Enterprise Ireland.

UCD will collaborate with a number of Irish agricultural equipment and services companies to deliver an integrated package of education and training, research, services and technology to Dairy United.

The memorandum envisages the establishment of the first China-Ireland demonstration farm in Hohhot for utilising agricultural and dairy equipment manufactured in Ireland.

Among other developments on the mission, Atlantic Dawn Group has launched boar fish on the Chinese market which it expects to give a major boost to its business, the Killybegs based company said.

The tiny boar fish has only recently become a commercial fishery and Ireland has secured 67 per cent of the total EU quota.

“We got the biggest quota of any European nation,” Karl McHugh, joint chief executive of Atlantic Dawn Group, said. “The volume is the huge potential. There could be a 50 per cent increase in pelagic species through the Irish market.”

Glanbia has launched a whey protein brand for the Chinese infant formula market. Mr Coveney officially launched Avonol, a whey protein concentrate powder.