British pork will soon be on menus in China following a £50 million deal reached by Agriculture Minister Jim Paice.
He announced the landmark agreement with the Chinese Government while on a mission to China to boost trade for British food and farming businesses.
Much of the exported pork will be offal, trotters, ears and other parts of the “fifth quarter” which British diners do not eat, but the Chinese do.
Mr 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.”
Defra recently published its food exports action plan to help Britain’s farming, food and drink industry – which has a reputation for quality, safety, innovation and expertise – take advantage of the great potential which China offers.
Chinese consumption of meat is increasing rapidly, yet domestic supply cannot meet the demand. The British pig industry estimates that trade in British pork with China will soon be worth more than £50million a year.
The industry is also developing its trade in genetic material for breeding programmes, as British pigs are far more fertile and productive.
British Pig Executive (BPEX) Chairman Stewart Houston 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 which are less popular here command a premium over there.”
The first consignment of British pork is ready to be dispatched by Tulip, the UK’s biggest producer.
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 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.”
Defra is looking to use the experience of developing this trade deal to open up markets for other British products and services. This will be vital in the future work of the food exports action plan.