Audio: U.S. Beef Gains Access to China for First Time Since 2003

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USDA has posted the requirements for exporting U.S. beef to China, opening a key market that’s been closed to U.S. beef for more than 13 years. As Thad Lively, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for trade access explains, the requirements for China go beyond those imposed by most international destinations for U.S. beef, and will include testing for residues from synthetic hormones and beta agonists. He notes that this will require a period of adjustment for the U.S. beef industry and will likely limit export volumes in the near term.

Despite these limiting factors, however, Lively says there is still much to like in the U.S.-China agreement. He praises U.S. government officials for negotiating broader access terms in China than any other beef-exporting country. The inclusion of chilled (never frozen) beef is especially important, because chilled U.S. beef will appeal greatly to buyers in China’s high-end foodservice and retail sectors.


Joe Schuele: USDA has posted the requirements for exporting U.S. beef to China, some of which are rather stringent in terms of production. Thad Lively, U.S. Meat Export Federation senior vice president for trade access, has more details in this USMEF report.

Thad Lively: This is the day we’ve waited for a long time. Today the USDA announced the requirements for exporting beef to China, so now it is clearer exactly what we are going to have to do to export to this market. In some respect, the requirements go beyond what we must do to have access to a lot of markets around the world, and as a consequence I think it’s probably realistic to think that in the beginning anyway our exports are going to start out pretty slow. We expect that business and that volume to pick up over time.

Joe Schuele: Despite these limiting factors, Lively says there’s a lot to like in the agreement, including eligibility for chilled beef.

Thad Lively: A number of areas of the agreement frankly turned out a lot better than any of us thought they would, even just several months ago and that’s something we all owe the folks at USDA and the U.S. government, more broadly, a big thank you for. We have access to the Chinese market under better terms than any beef exporting country, and we’re going to have access for far more of the carcass than any of our competitors. That’s a big win for all of us. We will have access for chilled beef, and this is going to be critically important because the customers we’re looking at, especially early on, are going to be high-end foodservice and retail customers in China, and they’re going to be looking for chilled beef. And of course U.S. beef is going to be positioned in that market at the top of the market, highest quality product available. And to the extent we are able to ship chilled product that always helps in terms of establishing our reputation for quality and for having the freshest imported beef in the market.

Joe Schuele: For more information, please visit For the U.S. Meat Export Federation, I’m Joe Schuele.