The final administration processes have been completed and Northern Ireland’s pork producers have now begun to export their produce to China.
Opening of the trade, which could potentially be worth more than £10million in revenue to the local pork sector, was welcomed by Chief Veterinary Officer Robert Huey.
The deal, which includes the export of fifth quarter cuts such as trotters, has been a long process but with the final obstacles now cleared the doors are open to a major global market.
Mr Huey said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the Northern Ireland pig industry. Following approval of two slaughterhouses and two cold stores to export pork to China on August 11, we had to wait while the administrative listing processes in China were being completed. This has now been done.
“Today’s announcement clears the way for pig producers here to capitalise on a significant global market. It is the culmination of five years of DAERA, the Northern Ireland Bureau in China, Food Standards Agency and industry working in partnership to build trust with China in order to secure access to a very important market.”
“This is a ringing endorsement for our rigorous standards which guarantee high-quality, safe and wholesome pork. Because we place a clear emphasis on traceability at the heart of production and processing, we are gaining a global reputation for delivering a joined up, safe and efficient food supply.”
Mr Huey said the commencement of exports is a boost for not just for processors and farmers but also for the wider agri-food sector as it will expand the marketplace and protect jobs.
He added: “However, we see this as the first of many opportunities for our agri-food industry and it is our intention to build up this trading relationship with China to enable our beef, poultry and other producers to access that market.”
Deirdre McIvor, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Pork and Bacon Forum, said the Chinese market was an “exciting development” andding that the potential for growth in this market is “vast”.
“She explained: “The local pig farming industry makes a significant contribution to the agri-sector sustaining 400 farming families and 2,000 local jobs. This Chinese approval is the culmination of years of collective support and work throughout the sector.”
Mr Huey said the announcement was timely as the Executive Office will host the third UK-China Leaders’ summit in Belfast next weekend when key senior decision makers across China will be in attendance.
“I look forward to welcoming delegates from across China to next weekend’s UK-China Leaders’ Summit in Belfast where no doubt they will have an opportunity to sample the best our food industry has to offer,” he said.