The Chinese market has opened for British pig meat after years of delicate negotiations, with six UK plants approved to export “fifth quarter” as well as other quality pork cuts to the country.

Both product and export health certificates have been approved and a formal announcement was made during a UK-China summit in London on June 28, during the Chinese premier’s visit to the UK. “This is wonderful news and something we have been working towards for several years," said British Pig Executive Chairman Stewart Houston. “The process has been a long one, but one of the milestones was the signing of the export health certificate agreement by UK Business Secretary Vince Cable and ministers from the Chinese quarantine inspectorate in November last year.”

According to Houston, pork and pork product prices are currently at record levels in China. "We have a fantastic opportunity to improve returns from selling all parts of the pig," he said. “This is much needed as pig prices in this country still lag behind the cost of production caused by continuing high feed costs and other rising input prices.”

China is both the biggest producer and consumer of pig meat in the world, producing 46 million metric tons a year, but consuming still more. Depending on how the trade develops, BPEX International Manager Peter Hardwick said the market could soon be worth as much as £40 million a year.