Northern Ireland pork producers began to export to China on Nov. 24 after the final administration processes were completed.

Chief Veterinary Officer Robert Huey welcomed the news saying this new trade, which includes the export of fifth quarter cuts such as trotters, could generate well in excess of £10m in revenue for Northern Ireland’s pork sector.

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 capitalize on a significant global market. It is the culmination of five years of DAERA, the Northern Ireland Bureau in China, Food Standards Agency, DEFRA in London 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, “This is an exciting development as 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. 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.