Speaking to Global Meat News, head of Asia-Pacific at the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Jonathan Eckley said the delegation from China visited the UK last week, earlier than expected. Although Eckley would not disclose details on which businesses the Chinese delegation had visited, he did say they examined the entire supply chain from farm to fork across the UK to investigate its protocols.
AHDB has estimated that beef access to China would be worth up to £250m over five years. In June of last year, China lifted the 20-year ban on UK beef, which it had implemented due to the BSE crisis. Eckley said the lifting of the BSE ban was just the start of a long process although he was hopeful that shipment approval would happen soon.
“China lifting the ban after 20 years was just the beginning and approval takes time,” he said. “We’ve seen some other European countries, such as Ireland, gain access and be very successful in China. We’ll be competing against some major players, such as markets from North and South America as well as Ireland. It’s a big enough market for everyone to be successful, but the UK is keen to start shipping beef to China to be part of this lucrative market.”
Eckley said that China was looking at the UK’s sheep meat protocols and a visit was expected later this summer.
He added that African swine fever (ASF) was having a “massive impact” on the Chinese pork market. “The UK exports of pork to China in 2018 totalled £80m and we’ve seen a lift in shipments year-on-year. A 20% reduction in production has been reported and that’s a significant drop for that market that will need to be shored up. The second half of 2019 will be very interesting in terms of UK pork exports to China.”