Defra Secretary Thérèse Coffey has discussed the suspension of pork exports to China from key UK pork plants during a visit to the country this week.
China suspended the export licences from three pork plants during the Covid epidemic – Pilgrim’s Ashton plant, which has since closed, and Cranswick’s Watton plant and the Brechin plant, taken over last year by the Brown Food Group – which remain unable to ship pork to China.
Industry figures believe the failure to lift the suspensions, even after any risk of Covid has long passed, is politically moitivated and have been urging the Government to intervene.
Ms Coffey visited China between Tuesday and Thursday this week, aiming to bolster UK food and drink exports and to promote international cooperation on environmental and wildlife issues.
She hosted a roundtable for 23 UK agri-food exhibitors to discuss export successes and future opportunities. She also met with Vice Minister for the General Administration of Customs China, Wang Lingjun (pictured), to discuss UK market access and our agri-food trading partnership with China.
There was a particular focus on increasing pork market access by removing the two pork plant suspension. China is the biggest importer of UK pork products, with just £200m shipped there in 2022. UK pork exports to China soared in the wake of its African swine fever outbreak, reaching £280m in 2022.
While in Beijing, Ms Coffey also held a bilateral meeting with China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment to discuss the UK and China’s shared ambitions ahead of COP28 next month and opportunities for continued collaboration on global biodiversity issues.