Negotiations will continue on getting permission for more meat plants to export trotters to China, after three plants were granted permission last month.
But it will not be a quick process and might not happen until at least 2018, AHDB Pork strategy director Mick Sloyan told the recent NPA’s producer group meeting.
In August, it was announced that two plants in Northern Ireland – Karro’s Cookstown plant and Cranswick’s Ballymena facility – had been approved for export to China, including trotters. A third plant – Cranswick’s Hull facility, already approved for export to China – was also approved to export trotters.
While this provides a timely boost for the sector, there is a disappointment that the approval for trotters doesn’t apply to other pig meat plants already approved for export to China.
Mr Sloyan explained that the two Northern Ireland plants were inspected by Chinese officials in 2015, along with Cranswick’s Hull factory, initially with a view to wider UK permission for trotters.
But, while the three inspected plants have got the go ahead, the Chinese authorities have now confirmed they want to inspect other plants individually before granting permission.
Mr Sloyan said: “We are pressing to get the rest of the country approved for trotters without the need for inspection. That’s going to be hard work – the chances are there will need to be an inspection visit and that’s not going to happen this year. It may happen next year.”
He praised the work of the British Embassy in Beijing in helping to secure the latest deal, alongside the efforts of UK and Northern Ireland Government officials, AHDB and the meat processors.