THE southern hemisphere's largest meat processing plant - JBS at Dinmore - yesterday played host to China's Agriculture Minister.
Han Changfu visited the abattoir that slaughters 3500 cattle a week after being invited by Australian Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig.
Speaking through an interpreter, Minister Han said: I'm very happy to have the opportunity to pay a visit to this facility at the invitation of Minister Ludwig".
"Though my visit is very short, I would very much like to see this relationship bear fruit, he said.
"The visit here to JBS is one of my important stops during my visit. I have got to know JBS is a large business and a modern one.
"In China we have a saying, 'See is believing' and that's why I travelled all these miles to see this company."
JBS chief executive Brent Eastwood said Australia's beef exports to China were big and getting bigger.
For 2010-11 it was 7378 tonnes, up to 18,865 tonnes for 2011-12. Already since last November, 44,258 tonnes of beef has been shipped to China.
JBS' best market was Japan followed by the US, Korea and domestic but at this rate of growth, China would quickly become a major trading partner.
China is also a major importer of Austrlia's lamb and sheep meat.
"We're very happy to host Minister Han and the Chinese delegation. We have a very close relationship and it's a very important market for JBS ," Mr Eastwood said.
"It's the only meat company he's visiting while he's here. He arrived in the country yesterday and he's leaving tomorrow.
"We've got some of our senior team going to China next week."
The clean, green image Australia had in animal production processing and food safety was very attractive, he said.
Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale was delighted by another example of the close relationship between Ipswich and China.
"So I want to say thank you for taking the time to visit our city and talk to the wonderful people at JBS, who have been very good friends of the city for many years," he told the Minister.