The UK sheep sector could be one step closer to exporting lamb to China, following a successful fact-finding mission.
A delegation of Chinese government officials arrived in the UK last week for a 10-day visit, which ended today (25 September).
During the visit they were given a tour of a sheep farm, abattoir and feed mill, as well as attending a feed testing workshop, to better understand the country’s disease control measures for sheep meat.
AHDB international market development director Dr Phil Hadley said the visit was a huge success and marked a major step forward in the UK’s ambition to gain market access.
“This week’s visit was hugely significant as we look to increase our red meat exports to the all-important Chinese market,” he said. “We are making great strides in opening the doors to sheep meat and we will continue to work with Defra and other bodies to make this ambition a reality.”
The visit formed part of ongoing work by Defra, AHDB, meat levy bodies Quality Meat Scotland and Hybu Cig Cymru, and others, to open the market for UK lamb. It comes in the same week that the UK’s chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, arrived in China with AHDB to discuss beef and pork exports.
Chinese authorities signed a protocol agreement in June to import UK beef for the first time in more than two decades. The Chinese government imposed a ban on UK beef imports in 1996, following the BSE outbreak. Since gaining access in 2012, China has become the main market in the region for pork exports, with UK exports valued at £43.3 million in 2016, and offal exports a further £31.4 million.