Export opportunities abound

UK pig producers are on the verge of gaining direct access to China, however the beef and lamb sector will have to wait, delegates to Eblex’s seventh export conference were told.

Peter Hardwick, head of trade development at Eblex, said a Chinese ministerial visit to the UK would be taking place next week, and plant approval was imminent.

However, he said to gain the same access for other proteins, such as beef, would take longer, partly due to Chinese concerns over the legacy of BSE. However, the experience with pork could help speed up the process.

When it came to fifth quarter, UK processors needed to up their game if they wanted to crack the lucrative Asian market, he added, as Chinese visitors had expressed concern that offals were being treated as waste, not food.

Meanwhile, Jean-Pierre Garnier, head of export services, highlighted opportunities in the Caribbean, with particular emphasis on Trinidad & Tobago, which he said was wealthy and had critical mass. However, anyone looking to export would face tough competition from US product, he warned.

The beef market in the Netherlands also offers opportunities for UK exporters. Pim Haasdijk from Green Seed, said the market was receptive to UK product and there was opportunity for branded products as well as opportunities to market by origin.

Overall, the opportunities were there, but more processors and producers needed to grasp them, said Garnier, but he also said there were problems posed by lack of supply and falling production.