The UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has agreed a £50m pork export deal with China during a delegation to the country.
Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said: “China is the most lucrative grocery market in the world and, from fashion to food, its rapidly expanding middle class has an appetite for Western goods. In particular, they are eating more meat, and our top-quality producers have got huge opportunities to meet that demand and help our economic recovery.”
Most of the products exported to China will be offal, trotters, ears and other fifth-quarter cuts generally unpopular in the UK market, helping the industry get maximum carcase returns.
Stewart Houston, chairman of British pig levy body Bpex, said: “This is a wonderful achievement and something we have been working towards for several years in close co-operation with Defra and the British embassy in Beijing.
“The process has been a long one, but I know it will prove to be extremely worthwhile. Pork is the most popular meat in China and some of the cuts that are less popular here command a premium over there.”
UK processors welcomed the new opportunity provided by the deal. Andrew Saunders, Tulip’s director of agriculture, said: “The news of the clearance to supply British pig meat into China is the culmination of many months of hard work by the team at Defra, Bpex and the National Pig Association, who have played a vital role in securing this export business opportunity by working in conjunction with the pig meat processing industry and UK pig farmers.
“The commitment by China to use British pig meat is true testament to the quality and standards in place across the UK pig industry and provides us with an exciting opportunity to enter a developing market.”
This is the first time a pork trade deal has been signed between the two countries.
Defra recently published a food exports action plan to help Britain’s food industry develop export markets, based on its reputation for quality and safety.
The increase in Chinese consumption of meat is rapidly overtaking domestic supply, and it is estimated that British pork exports to the country could soon be worth more than £50m a year.