Export breakthrough: First Dutch veal en route to China after 17-year negotiations

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17 Oct 2018 --- After more than 17 years of negotiation, the Chinese market is finally open to Dutch veal. Ekro, the subsidiary of the VanDrie Group, has become the first European veal slaughterhouse to receive approval to export veal products to China.

Initially, only boneless veal will be allowed to cross the border, but nevertheless, this is considered a breakthrough trade deal. 

This week’s visit by the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and the Commerce Minister Zhong Shan to the Netherlands is further confirmation of the deal. The Chinese government had authorized the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) to perform the final required inspection at one veal producing company.

“Many people have worked very hard to achieve this. The Dutch embassy and its agricultural attachés in China, the NVWA and the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) all deserve considerable praise,” says Henny Swinkels, Director of Corporate Affairs at VanDrie Group.

“I am also pleased with the help that we have received from the Dutch meat association Centrale Organisatie voor de Vleessector (COV). It is an excellent result that could only be achieved through the professional, collective efforts and close cooperation with the Chinese institutions.”

Ekro is shipping the first veal order to China this week. Swinkels envisages great prospects for the Dutch quality product as the Netherlands has a good reputation in the field of nutrition in China. 

“With our quality system Safety Guard, we provide unique guarantees for the Dutch veal products that we deliver, such as quality, tracking & tracing and food safety. Chinese consumers find these elements very important. It is now up to us to familiarize the market with the product,” he adds. 

Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst about potential volumes of veal to China, a VanDrie Group spokesperson says: “There are no quotas. It will take a lot of time and work to grow our market. Veal (bovine meat from calves younger than 12 months) is not well known China. Veal, however, fits within the Chinese cuisine. We expect within the coming five years to grow our export share to about €20 million (US$23 million).”

“With the BSE crisis in the ‘90s, China closed its market for Dutch beef and veal. The restrictions for veal have now been lifted. The Chinese authorities are convinced that the Netherlands can deliver safe veal products. The different quality systems in use and production sites have extensively been audited.”

“Dutch pork is a product that already is being exported to China. With the addition of veal is the Dutch meat sector a significant player in China.”

By Gaynor Selby

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