Chief Vet hails final approval for pork exports to China as major boost to agri-food industry

Date published: 11 August 2017

Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Chief Veterinary Officer, Robert Huey, today welcomed news that Northern Ireland has received final approval to export pork to China.

Mr Huey said the announcement - made by the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) today - was a major boost to the local agri-food industry worth in excess of £10million.  

He said: “I am delighted that China’s certification agency, the CNCA has announced its final approval for Northern Ireland plants to export pork to China. I look forward to the commencement of exports. This welcome news follows concerted efforts by DAERA over time working closely with DEFRA in London and Beijing, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, FSA in Northern Ireland, Invest NI and the industry here in Northern Ireland to achieve this outcome.

“Ministerial visits to China by former Agriculture Ministers, O’Neill and McIlveen, in support of our industry were an essential element of this success story. Likewise, continued representation in Beijing by the Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau in China has contributed significantly in ensuring that Northern Ireland agri-food trade objectives are kept to the fore in China. We are also indebted to Madam Wang, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Belfast for her support. This joined up approach between Government, industry and key stakeholders is central to this announcement today.”

The new UK export deal with China will bring a £200million boost to the UK food industry and support 1,500 jobs, according to DEFRA.  In Northern Ireland, two slaughterhouses and two cold stores in Northern Ireland have now been given the green light to export pork.

Mr Huey continued: “The commencement of pork exports to China, including exports of trotters, will represent a major boost for the local pork industry. It will expand markets and secure jobs. By recommending approval for Northern Ireland, the Chinese authorities have recognised the rigorous standards we have in place to produce our high-quality, safe and wholesome pork. We place a clear emphasis on traceability at the heart of our production and processing and recognise that a joined up, safe and efficient food supply is essential.

He concluded: “DAERA continues to invest much time and energy into opening new markets to expand the agri-food industry in Northern Ireland. This approval to export pork represents a tangible outcome in DAERA’s long-term engagement strategy with China and also represents achievement in securing access to one of the primary new markets outlined in the Going for Growth initiative.”


Notes to editors: 

  1. In order to be eligible to export pork to China, interested plants must be first be inspected by China’s Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) technical experts, approved and then listed on both their CNCA and the AQSIQ websites. The CNCA inspection team visited Northern Ireland in April 2015.
  2. A separate team of inspectors from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People's Republic of China (AQSIQ) also visited Northern Ireland in April 2015 to audit pork fifth quarter production standards for export, specifically for trotters.
  3. Minister O’Neill visited China in November 2012, September 2013 and June 2015 and Minister McIlveen visited China as DAERA Minister in November 2016. 
  4. Shipping will not start for approx. another 2-4 weeks whilst the administration is now organised on both sides but producers can start to pack product with a view to exporting.  
  5. Follow us on Twitter @daera_ni.
  6. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email DAERA Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

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