Scottish meat wholesalers have pledged to be in the vanguard of selling beef to lucrative new markets in China by the end of this year.
The commitment came hard on the heels of an announcement by Defra that a UK-China beef protocol was signed yesterday by Farming Minister Robert Goodwill and the Chinese ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, securing market access for UK beef exporters by the end of 2019. The deal is estimated to be worth £230 million in sales over five years.
The political accord follows China’s lifting of the ban on the imports of British beef imports last year and several years of site inspections and engagement between UK and Chinese government officials. The ban was imposed in 1996 in the wake of BSE.
Martin Morgan, the executive manager of the Scottish Association for Meat Wholesalers (SAMW), said members would be looking to exploit the potentially lucrative market.
Mr Morgan added: “With domestic demand for beef more or less stagnant at present, and our future trade into Europe in the balance due to Brexit, the opening up of a new market of this size is very welcome news.”
China is the UK’s eighth largest export market for food and drink, with more than £610m worth of products bought by Chinese consumers last year. Five British pork plants were recently approved to export products to China, a move which will build on a market already worth £70m per year.
Mr Goodwill said it was a major coup for the food and farming industry.
He added: “Today’s milestone reflects our ambition to maximise new trading opportunities across the world and become a truly global Britain as we leave the EU.”
AHDB’s international market development director, Dr Phil Hadley, said meat wholesalers were set to benefit from the opportunities the new agreement presents.
He said: “We look forward to seeing the first shipments leave the UK bound for China in the near future.”