Chinese give green light to NI pork exports in deal worth £10 million

Chief Veterinary Officer for NI, Mr Robert Huey
Chief Veterinary Officer for NI, Mr Robert Huey

Final approval for the export of pork to China is a “major boost” to Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry, the country’s top vet has said.

Commenting on news that China’s certification agency, the CNCA, has given the green light for “access to one of the primary new markets,” Robert Huey said it will “expand markets and secure jobs”.The Department of Agriculture (DAERA) chief veterinary officer said: “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 today.”

The new UK-wide export deal with will bring a £200 million boost to the UK food industry and help support 1,500 jobs, according to DEFRA (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs).

In Northern Ireland, two cold stores and two slaughterhouses have now been cleared to begin exporting pork to the nation of almost 1.4 billion people.

Mr Huey continued: “The commencement of pork exports to China, including exports of trotters, 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 shipping of exports will not start for another 2-4 weeks while the necessary administration is organised by both sides, however, producers are able to being the packing process ahead of the first shipments.

In order to meet the criteria to export pork to China, all interested plants must be first be inspected by China’s Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) technical experts, and then approved and listed on both their CNCA and the AQSIQ websites. China’s CNCA inspection team visited Northern Ireland in April 2015.