U.S. beef speeds to China by air as trade deal ends 14-year ban

The first shipment of U.S. beef to China under a new trade deal went airborne on Wednesday, a Nebraska meat company said, just two days after Washington finalized details to resume exports, ending a 14-year ban.

Greater Omaha Packing Co said it shipped beef by plane to China from Nebraska, a top U.S. beef producing state, to meet strong demand.

China is the world’s fastest growing beef market, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and its imports increased to $2.5 billion last year from $275 million in 2012.

To win business, Greater Omaha Packing has hired bilingual salespeople from China, Davis said. He added that the company had received hundreds of phone calls in recent months about sales to China from potential customers and distributors.

So far, only Greater Omaha Packing and Tyson Foods Inc, the biggest U.S. meat company, have processing plants approved by the USDA to ship beef to China.

Tyson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Tuesday, Cargill Inc, another major beef processor, said that only a small percentage of the total current U.S. cattle supply would qualify for exports to China under the terms of the new trade agreement.

Source: Reuters (via Drovers)