A new export deal will see seven UK and Northern Ireland companies supply pork to China. This is after they were allowed to access the Chinese pork market

For the first time, trotters will be exported from the United Kingdom. Following this new deal, with China, the domestic food industry will get a £200 million injection.

The new deals cover approval to export from five locations in Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Co Antrim plus Co Tyrone. The four Northern Ireland companies include Cranswick County Foods, Granville Food Care, Interfrigo and Karro Foods, while in England Cranswick Country Foods located in Hullo plus two undisclosed cold stores got approval.

In April 2015, technical experts from China’s Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) inspected all the plants. A separate team comprising of inspectors from the People’s Republic of China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision and Quarantine (AQSIQ) also visited Northern Ireland at the same time to conduct an audit of the exports’ fifth-quarter production standards.

Although the producers have been given the green light to start packing products as they look forward to exporting, they will not start shipping for 2–4 more weeks as the administration on the two sides is organised. This was revealed by the Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

There are nine British producers who are already exporting pork to China. Last year, they generated £43m. On the other hand, the demand for UK pork has doubled in value over the last three years.

China is certainly a very important market, going by what Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs minister of state George Eustice stated. He was quoted saying: “China is a hugely important market for our world-class food industry and, by opening up access even further, more UK businesses can take advantage of the growing appetite for our food and drink.

He added: “British food is produced to the very best standards of welfare, quality and safety and this growth in exports to China is creating more jobs and opportunities for our premium pork producers, who can guarantee quality from farm to fork”.

According to Northern Ireland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Robert Huey, the access may well be worth £10m, that is just to Northern Ireland alone, something he was happy about.

Huey was reported saying: This is very welcome news for the Northern Ireland pig sector and for our wider agri-food industry and I look forward to the commencement of exports to China. The deal represents a major boost worth in excess of £10m for the local pork industry.

He went on: “This welcome news follows concerted efforts by Defra, supported by the government and industry in Northern Ireland. By recommending approval, the Chinese authorities have recognised the rigorous standards Northern Ireland has in place to produce our high-quality, safe and wholesome pork. We place a clear emphasis on traceability at the heart of our production and processing and recognise that a joined-up, safe and efficient food supply is essential.”

On his part, Northern Ireland Office Minister Chloe Smith MP had this to say: “I welcome the news that seven UK businesses, including companies based in Northern Ireland, have secured market access for the export of pork to China. It is an exciting example of what the Northern Ireland agri-food sector and, indeed, export market can be, and of what we can achieve in terms of trade, jobs and new opportunities as we build an economy that works for everyone.”

The new deal was hailed by Dr. Phil Hadley, international development director for the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) who was quoted saying: We are absolutely delighted this new deal has been agreed with China, which will support jobs and create opportunities for UK pork producers for years to come.

He went on: This agreement with China comes hot on the heels of this week’s announcement that a £34m deal has been agreed to export UK beef to the Philippines. It is great to hear so much positive news around exports of UK meat and is a testament to the hard work being done to promote the UK food industry on a global stage.”

Adding its voice the National Pig Association said that it was “exceptionally happy with this development.”

It issued a statement which stated: “Many people have worked on this deal and we would like to thank all those through the years throughout industry and in government who were involved in securing this amazing result.”