Sheep meat exports to China a step closer

Sheep meat exports to China a step closer

Aspirations to export lamb from the UK to China are a step closer after Chinese government officials arrived in the country this week on a fact-finding mission.
A delegation from the General Administrations of Customs of the People’s Republic of China arrived in the UK for a ten-day visit, which ended today.
During the mission, they were given a tour of a sheep farm, abattoir, feed mill and attended a feed testing workshop in a bid to better understand the disease control measures for sheep meat in the UK.
The visit forms part of ongoing work by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) alongside the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and meat levy bodies Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) as well as others including UKECP, to open the market for UK lamb.
It comes in the same week the UK’s chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, arrived in China with AHDB to discuss the progress of beef and pork exports.

In the summer a high-level Chinese delegation visited Welsh farms in the company of the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths and the Chief Veterinary Officer.

 

The Chinese authorities signed a protocol agreement in June to export beef for the first time in more than 20 years since the BSE ban. And since gaining access in 2012, China has become the main market in the region for pork exports. Demand was particularly strong in 2016, with UK exports valued at £43.3 million with offal exports worth a further £31.4 million.

HCC export development executive Deanna Jones said that the visit was another important step, following the announcement earlier this year of the signing of a protocol agreement on beef, which could lead to the Chinese market opening to PGI Welsh Beef in 2020.

“The Chinese market is of course the most populous in the world,” said Deanna. “If we were able to lift the historic restrictions on exports to the People’s Republic, it could be a major boost to lamb and beef farmers in Wales.

“In the summer, we made very good progress on beef following the GACC inspection and the visit of the high-level Chinese delegation with Welsh Government to farms in Wales,” added Deanna. “But we’ve always been clear that being able to export PGI Welsh Lamb is hugely important. We’re therefore pleased to see progress in this area too, although it’s too soon to say when sheepmeat exports might begin.”

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: “The red meat sector is of huge importance to Welsh agriculture and the economy. As we prepare to leave the European Union, lifting restrictions could provide a great opportunity for our producers to explore new overseas markets and get a foothold in the Chinese market for our iconic PGI Welsh Lamb.”

AHDB international market development director, Dr Phil Hadley, said the visit was incredibly successful and marked a major step forward in the UK’s ambitions to gain market access.
“This week’s visit was hugely significant as we look to increase our red meat exports to the all-important Chinese market,” Dr Hadley added. “We are making great strides in opening the doors to sheep meat and we will continue to work with Defra and other bodies to make this ambition a reality.”

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