The UK’s first agriculture and food counsellor in China has been appointed to help increase British food and drink exports to the country, which is estimated to have taken UK pigmeat worth £50 million in 2014.
The announcement was made after a trip to China last week, headed by Environment Secretary, Elizabeth Truss (pictured at a reception in China).
The new role, made possible with significant funding from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), is designed to help British firms tap into China’s growing interest in speciality foods – a market expected to be worth a potential £39 billion this year.
“Karen Morgan, based in the British embassy in Beijing, will represent the interests of UK businesses already exporting quality British food and drink produce to China, and firms looking to open new trade links,” said a UK government spokesperson, adding that the role will involve identifying opportunities for new markets and further developing the UK’s excellent relationship with key Chinese authorities.
“The appointment will strengthen our trade and negotiating presence in China and help UK businesses take advantage of the vast opportunities the Chinese market represents,” said Ms Truss. “This is part of my ambition for the UK food and farming sector to lead the world and is a key part of our long-term economic plan.”
Ms Morgan, who currently leads Defra’s competitive farming team, will take up her new role in the spring.
Welcoming the appointment, AHDB chairman Peter Kendall said that the move represented a “long term strategic levy investment” by the board, working in “continued close cooperation” with the China Business Council.
“I know the AHDB export team is looking forward to working with Karen to expand our activities in China’s meat, livestock and dairy markets and to help create new opportunities for fresh produce and cereals,” he said.