Australia opens up for Northern Ireland pork exports

30-01-2018 | |
Photo: Dreamstime
Photo: Dreamstime

Australia has opened up for Northern Ireland’s pig producers, which offers luctrative opportunities for the country’s pig producers.

This latest new market potential has been in the making for the past 3 years and has finally received the green light by officials in both countries. The move follows just weeks after pork exports to China were also officially granted for the country.

Northern Ireland’s deputy chief veterinary officer, Dr Perpetua McNamee, announced the news and said it was a significant boost to the local agri-food industry.

Veterinary health certificate

The announcement came after Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera) and the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) agreed a new veterinary health certificate for the export of pork from Northern Ireland to Australia.

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Official permission had previously been granted for Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) to export pork to Australia thanks to efforts by the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Now Northern Ireland, the last country in the UK, has negotiated its own deal and can also take advantage of this ‘down under’ market.

Pigs originating from Republic of Ireland

According to Daera, this specific deal does not include pork from pigs originating in the Republic of Ireland and that are being finished or processed in Northern Ireland.

Even though the Republic of Ireland has its own separate trade deal to export pork to Australia, negotiations are continuing with Australia to agree additional biosecurity measures that may allow the export of pork from Irish born or reared pigs that end up across the border in Northern Ireland.

Dr McNamee said: “Daera continues to invest much time and energy into opening new markets to expand the agri-food industry in Northern Ireland. This approval to export pork represents a tangible outcome in Daera’s long-term global engagement strategy and also represents achievement in securing access to one of the new markets outlined in the Going for Growth initiative.”

Market access interest from Northern Ireland

In response to market access interest from Northern Ireland for the export of pig meat to Australia, DAWR undertook an assessment to examine the nature of official controls and supervision provided by the Food Standards Agency and Daera veterinary services in Northern Ireland, and to assess if these were sufficient to meet Australia’s exacting biosecurity requirements.

The assessment included a desk audit, based on information provided by Daera, and a verification visit by 3 Australian veterinary officers to Northern Ireland in April 2016. DAWR officials compiled a detailed report which recommended the commencement of trade in pork.

In December 2017, DAWR announced the new market access for pork products from Northern Ireland and stated that trade could commence once health certification had been agreed.

Lengthy negotiation process of pork exports

Agreement on the text of the certificate was the final stage in a lengthy negotiation process for officials in Belfast and Canberra and enables pork exports to commence immediately for food businesses that meet the biosecurity and food safety standards required by Australia.

Deirdre McIvor, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Pork and Bacon Forum, welcomed the deal as another positive step for the pork industry in Northern Ireland.

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Chris McCullough Freelance multi-media journalist