The British Government has followed up last year’s trade deal to send live pigs to China with an agreement that will also allow the UK to export pig semen.
The deal was signed this week during a three day visit to China by Prime Minister David Cameron at the head of a trade delegation.
The deal, which involves four artificial insemination centres in England and Northern Ireland, said to be worth £45 million, although it’s unclear how that figure breaks down in terms of semen sales and timescale. Pig World understands the figure may also include royalty payments for gilts bred from the semen supplied.
The industry has been lobbying for semen to get access to China on the grounds that the Chinese pork producers they deal with prefer to source it from the same country where they obtain sows for breeding. Exports of both fresh and frozen semen are expected to begin early in 2014.
Half the world’s pigs are in China, and improving pig genetics is key to the country as pig meat is one of its main sources of protein. China wants to increase the efficiency of its production, while minimising the environmental impact.
It is hoped that the UK industry can play an important role in helping China achieve greater efficiency through the provision of high-quality genetic stock.