Earlier this week, it was announced China will allow the importation of Canadian fresh-chilled beef in a pilot project and establish documentation to enable bone-in beef trade.

Dennis Laycraft, Executive Vice President with the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, along with Vice President, David Haywood-Farmer, recently accompanied the Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay to China November 22 to 26.

Laycraft says they're confident Canadian beef will do well in the Chinese premium market.

"There is a preference there for a fresh product, which we're certainly capable of providing to China. We do that to about a hundred other countries, so as we move ahead there, we're anticipating hopefully within a matter of weeks we'll start to get approval to move product."

Previously, Canadian beef exports had been limited to frozen boneless beef, and last year bone-in beef was approved in principle.

Laycraft says, as far as Canadian beef exports, China follows the U.S. and Mexico but has recently moved ahead of Japan.

This year is on track to export $100 million worth of Canadian beef to China.

He says China has come to Canada to conduct plant inspections over the last 12 months.

"We're seeking more plants to be approved, which we're expecting imminently to happen, and with that a finalized protocol, so we can start to move the bone-in product into China. Coupled with that, is a pilot project on chill product."

Currently, Canadian beef entering China is subject to a 12 per cent tariff, whereas New Zealand and Australia have Free Trade Agreements with the country.

The Chinese market is evolving more quickly than any other market in the world, Laycraft says.

"As the substantial growth in middle income is occurring, there going out a purchasing more premium products. If you're looking for a premium product, that's where a product like Canadian beef, and associated with Canada's tremendous reputation there, come together."

Laycraft says they're hopeful over time it will lead to a growth in exports to China's quickly growing market.