China exports closer for agri-food firms

Ms O'Neill pictured in Beijing with deputy director-general Bi of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine
Ms O'Neill pictured in Beijing with deputy director-general Bi of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine

Food producers in the province are set for a substantial boost with the news that Northern Ireland has been provisionally recommended for approval to export pork to China.

Confirming the advance, Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill said she was delighted that China’s certification agency, the CNCA, had announced its intention to approve plants here to export pork.

Stating that the approval remains subject to some remedial actions identified during a visit by Chinese officials earlier this year, she said local officials were working closely with two pork processors to ensure this work was progressed quickly and efficiently.

“This welcome step forward follows my third visit to China in June which was focused on negotiating these vital pork approvals,” she said. “Securing approval was also made possible by us hosting two inward inspections by Chinese officials in April of this year.”

Illustrating the benefits of the development, the Minister added: “The commencement of pork exports to China will represent a major boost for the local pork industry which has been seeking to gain access to this market for several years. It will also provide lasting long term benefits to the wider agri-food sector and to the economy of the north as a whole.”

China is expected to become the world’s leading consumer of pig meat on a per capita basis, surpassing the European Union, by 2022.

Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell, who has recently returned from a trade mission in China, also welcomed the announcement.

“There is no quick fix to doing business in China; relationships and trust have to be built up over time. Our companies have been doing that through various trade missions, including Food Hotel China, and are now beginning to see tangible benefits.”