Individual plant inspections are necessary before the agreement on health certification is reached and trade can really start. Nonetheless, this is a milestone for the UK meat trade and, hopefully, more products like lamb and beef will eventually be added to the list.
This achievement must be put into perspective, however. Only a few countries in the world are allowed to export pork to China and under strict conditions, although the US dominates imports.
China is particularly significant - not only for the size, with a human population 20 times that of the UK, but also for the prices that can be achieved for some commodities. In practice, due to a number of factors, including pig diseases, urban encroachment and the recent earthquake, Chinese pig production has declined for more than two years and prices have risen to European level.
However, the real interest of the Chinese market is for the incredible range of offal and fifth-quarter products consumed there, most of which are not eaten in the UK and would end up as waste. What is perceived gory here is a delicacy in China. This provides a huge market for our exporters and a massive opportunity to improve the value of the fifth quarter, an area that has been repeatedly singled out for improvement.
However, Chinese customers are demanding high processing, freezing and packing specifications in relation to the value awarded to these products. This should be recognised by exporters if the true value of the product is to be achieved.
Jean Pierre Garnier, Export manager AHDB Meat Services