Chicken feet trade with China step in right direction, BPC says

Chicken feet could be Northern Ireland’s next big export, due to work being carried out by the environment secretary Owen Paterson.

While on his trade trip to China this week, Paterson paid a visit to a Tesco supermarket in the centre of Shanghai, where the subject of chicken feet was broached in a conversation with the store manager.

In his online tour diary, Paterson said: “I was looking out for chicken’s feet which are a delicacy over here; the store manager said he has to bring them from Brazil becase he can’t get enough of them. What is a wasted by- product of the poultry industry in the UK can be sold here adding value.

“I immediately told him about the poultry producer from Northern Ireland who produces nine million chicken’s feet a week and has to pay to dispose of them. We were able to put them in touch with each other.”

A spokeswoman for the British Poultry Council (BPC) told MeatInfo.co.uk that the BPC was supportive of possible trade between the two countries. She said: “Right now we [the UK poultry industry] don’t have specific trade relations with China, but the UK has recently launched trade negotiations and it’s a step in the right direction.”

The UK processes more than 850m chickens each year and most of the 1.7bn feet from those chickens are rendered into pet food, along with heads, livers and gizzards. Many processors pay to get rid of the feet as well as the other unwanted cuts.

Business International Director at Invest Northern Ireland Barry McBride said: “China is a market that we have identified as offering very substantial  opportunities for our food processing sector . 

"Timing is everything and fortuitously in relation to the opportunity highlighted by Owen Paterson, Defra Minister, over the past week, a trade delegation of 20 food companies, led by First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, has visited Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

"Included in the delegation were  Moy Park, our largest poultry processor, which is very much aware of this  important opportunity. The visit included support for our food companies taking part in a ‘meet the buyer’ event held as of the Hotel Asia exhibition in Shanghai."