Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Families will soon be tucking into cheaper chilled beef from the mainland thanks to an import deal cut by officials.
It is estimated that it will be cheaper by 30 percent based on the price of chilled mainland beef across the border. But the head of the main traders’ association yesterday predicted the meat will only be 10 to 20 percent cheaper than fresh beef, which costs HK$60 to HK$62 a catty, or HK$16 to HK$17 per pound in the retail market.
Restaurants, importers and wholesalers welcomed the agreement reached in Beijing yesterday after years of discussion.
Secretary for Food and Health York Chow Yat-ngok said the government is finalizing import arrangements. “The import of chilled beef from the mainland is conducive to stabilizing the beef supply in Hong Kong, thus maintaining food prices at a reasonable and stable level,” he said. “The Centre for Food Safety has completed its inspection of the [mainland] processing plant and cattle farm.”
Chow spoke after meeting State General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine chief Zhi Shuping.
Vice Minister of Commerce Chen Jian, meanwhile, said he believes the deal should help stabilize the price of other beef products in Hong Kong. The meat will be supplied by Haoyue, a company based in Jilin province.
A spokesman for the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said importers must obtain permits from the department before imports begin. As to when the first batch will reach the local market, the spokesman said it will depend on when importers apply for permits, how long Haoyue takes to meet the orders and the transportation time.
Kwok Shi-hing, chairman of the Hong Kong Chilled Meat and Poultry Association, said the group has asked for quotations from Haoyue but has yet to get a reply. “We expect chilled beef to be more than 10 percent cheaper than fresh [beef]. We are going to buy in bulk to bargain for a better deal.”
So far, four of the 40-odd companies in the association plan to import meat.
Patrick Chan Ngok-leung of Tai Po Chun Hing, a meat wholesaler, said his firm will buy the meat only if it is much cheaper than fresh beef, say at a price of HK$12.30 per pound.
Tommy Fung Siu-man, managing director of Rhine Garden Holdings restaurant chain, said if the meat is of good quality and cheaper, his chain will consider using it.