Six packing plants in Australia have been temporarily banned from exporting beef to China. On July 26, Australian trade officials confirmed that Chinese authorities had halted beef trade with six plants for labeling inaccuracies.

Numerous Australian news outlets have determined that five different packing companies in three states will be impacted by the ban. These are the plants affected include:

  • JBS packing plants in Beef City, Queensland and Scone, New South Wales
  • Australian Country Choice in Brisbane, Queensland
  • Thomas Food International in Murray Bridge, South Australia
  • Northern Cooperative Meat Company in Casino, New South Wales
  • Kilcoy Pastoral in Kilcoy, Queensland

Chinese newspaper Global Times reports that 12 import shipments from the six packing plants were denied entry into the country because they were in violation of regulations stipulated in the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

Beef that was shipped to China prior to July 24 is still able to enter the food chain, after that there is a 45 day investigation period ongoing.

A letter was received by Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo last Wednesday in regards to the ban.

"This is a very significant and substantial export trade with China with potentially tens of millions and possibly hundreds of millions of dollars in trade affected," Ciobo says.

Ciobo plans to work with authorities in China and at the Australian embassy to resolve the issue.

According to Meat & Livestock Australia, 94,040 tons of beef was shipped to China in 2016. Australia has seen a 36.6% drop in beef exports to China from 2015 to 2016. However, the five year average from 2011-2015 was 93,660 tons making 2016 an above average year.

In 2015, beef exports to China accounted for $803 million (AUD$1 billion) in trade. Last year it was down to $588 million (AUD$737 million). China is the fourth largest export market for Australia ranking below the U.S., Japan and South Korea.

The U.S. just recently regained access into the Chinese market after a 13.5 year absence stemming from the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. China has become a major consumer of beef going from $275 million in beef imports 2012 to $2.5 billion in 2016.