Agri-Food and Strategy Board Chairman Tony O’Neill has welcomed the provisional recommendation by authorities in China for the import of pork from Northern Ireland.
Mr O’Neill said the ‘immensely significant breakthrough’ for Northern Ireland pork in the world’s biggest marketplace should pave the way for pig producers here to access the extensive opportunities there.
He added: “This important decision is the result of the tireless efforts by Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill, supported by the Board, to enable meat processors to access business in China.
“Our Going for Growth Strategic Action Plan recommended a sharper focus on developing this market and the requirement for the local supply chain to meet the requirements of the Chinese marketplace. Underpinning our pork supply chain is a robust traceability system for our livestock and also our feed supply, through the Food Fortress scheme.
“The AFSB’s dedicated pig sub-group also continues to work to explore potential improvements in the welfare, housing and environmental impact of pig production in Northern Ireland, all of which will support the marketing of our produce in new and expanding markets,” Mr O’Neill added.
“The Board will continue work with the Minister in her drive to access the world’s largest food and drink market, as well as exploring business in other global markets that will ensure the sustainable growth of the local food and drink industry, now our biggest and most dynamic industry.
“China has a population of 1.3 billion, including a rapidly growing middle class with a developing interest in food and drink from European suppliers. It’s a huge market that merits the sharpest possible focus by our food and drink manufacturers.
“China’s specialist food import market, for instance, is projected to be worth an amazing £39 billion next year. UK food and drink exports there have more than doubled since 2010 to reach £280 million, mostly dairy products, pork, beer and tea,” added Mr O’Neill.