China beef deals a safeguard against Brexit, says ABP

Company secures €50m deal with Asian firm Wowprime to supply beef to outlets in China

 

The lifting of a ban on Irish beef exports to China offers a hedge against the possible negative effects of Brexit, said Mark Goodman, managing director of ABP’s international division.

His remarks came as he launched a three-year €50 million deal with Asian restaurant chain Wowprime to supply Irish beef to its outlets across China. The ABP deal is the first to be formally launched since China’s ban on Irish beef was lifted last month.

Mr Goodman, son of Larry Goodman, expects boneless frozen Irish product to start coming in to China in about six weeks.

“The key benefit of the market opening in China is that it’s a serious hedge against the downside risk of Brexit which is coming at us quick, and also potentially Mercosur, where we can see increased volumes coming from South America, where it’s cheap beef,” said Mr Goodman.

He was speaking at a signing ceremony for the deal with Wowprime, a publicly listed company with 400 restaurants, 151 of them in China. The company offers customers a mix of traditional Asian and western cuisine across 18 restaurant brands and ABP beef will be available in two of Wowprime’s premium restaurant brands: Wang Steak and Tasty.

Mr Goodman believes the deal could prove a template for other such relationships. As well as the food service sector, ABP is also looking at online and retail. Online is a particularly strong source of growth – 30 per cent of retail in China is online and 75 per cent of meat sold online is beef.

“You have got big companies like JD.com and T-Mall. You see people on their phones – they buy everything on their phones. So in China it’s essential that we get a listing on those websites,” said Mr Goodman. “On Monday in Beijing we opened talks with a distribution company who serve JD.com and we are hoping to get a listing in coming months on JD.com for Irish beef.”

The signing event was attended by Minister for Food Michael Creed and general manager of Wowprime China Stanley Lin.

Wowprime also said it would extend the arrangement to include ABP’s UK operations should Britain gain market access to China.

Looking ahead, Goodman is hopeful that access for Irish beef will be expanded. “We need to get two things, bone-in beef and also fresh as well as frozen. Especially for retail we need fresh beef,” he said.