China has opened up its market to pork imports from Northern Ireland. This landmark decision could lead to new business opportunities for the local pig industry, valued at some £10m per annum.
Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) chief veterinary officer, Robert Huey has welcomed the breakthrough.
He said: “I am delighted that China’s certification agency, the CNCA, has announced its final approval for Northern Ireland plants to export pork to China. I look forward to the commencement of exports. This welcome news follows concerted efforts by DAERA over time working closely with DEFRA in London and Beijing, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, FSA in Northern Ireland, Invest NI and the industry here in Northern Ireland to achieve this outcome.
“Ministerial visits to China by former Agriculture Ministers, O’Neill and McIlveen, in support of our industry were an essential element of this success story. Likewise, continued representation in Beijing by the director of the Northern Ireland Bureau in China has contributed significantly in ensuring that Northern Ireland agri-food trade objectives are kept to the fore in China. We are also indebted to Madam Wang, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Belfast, for her support. This joined up approach between government, industry and key stakeholders is central to this announcement.”
Mr Huey continued: “The commencement of pork exports to China will represent a major boost for the local pork industry.
“It will expand markets and secure jobs.
“By recommending approval for Northern Ireland, the Chinese authorities have recognised the rigorous standards we have 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.”
The Ulster Farmers’ Union says securing access to the Chinese pork market is a big win for the industry.
Commenting on the decision Ulster Farmers’ Union pork and bacon chairman, Norman Robson, said access to China would ultimately add value to carcases, and said he looked forward to seeing the first exports in the near future.
“The Chinese market has the potential to offer significant long-term demand for pork products. Access to this market should boost returns for processors. Farmers will now look forward to seeing this added value distributed fairly along the supply chain,” he said.
The deal was also warmly welcomed by Invest NI.
Steve Harper, Executive Director, International Business commented: “The announcement that export licences have been granted for four Northern Ireland sites to export pork to China is a great conclusion to a long campaign. We have been supporting companies and the NI Executive to demonstrate the provenance and quality of our produce for a number of years. The Chinese Government’s approval after a long inspection process is a real endorsement of the high standards we have here.
“China is a large consumer of pigmeat, including parts of the animal not generally used in Europe. The new licences awarded also include approvals for two sites to export pig trotters providing a new export growth opportunity for the companies involved.
“This development has the potential to greatly increase export opportunities for our pork processors and producers, with the industry estimating it could be worth £10m a year to Northern Ireland’s economy.”