Pork producers seal tasty £10m Chinese deal
Northern Ireland pork producers were celebrating yesterday as the industry got the green light to export Northern Ireland pork to China - business worth around £10m a year to the local economy.
It's the culmination of five years of effort to build a strong trading relationship with one of the world's largest markets for pork products.
Chief Veterinary Officer Robert Huey welcomed the news, saying: "This is a wonderful opportunity for the Northern Ireland pig industry. 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."
Industry sources see the Chinese link as the first of many opportunities for our agri-food industry and hope beef, poultry and other producers will also seize opportunities to sell into China.
Deirdre McIvor, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Pork and Bacon Forum said: "The potential for growth in this market is vast. The local pig farming industry makes a significant contribution to the agri-sector, sustaining 400 farming families and 2,000 local jobs."
Ms McIvor was bullish about the prospects opened up by the China export link.
"If we doubled our production and sold every last scrap of pork to China, it would just be a drop in the ocean, their market is so huge," she said.
The new agreements will support around 1,500 jobs across the UK, 400 of them in Northern Ireland. Demand for British food and drink is growing in China, with the total value of exports rising by a third to £438m in 2016. Demand for UK pork has doubled in terms of value over the last three years. Nine UK producers already export to China and generated £43m last year.
The Ulster Farmer's Union also welcomed the opening up of China to Northern Ireland pork.