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Dairy exports to China under threat as Defra refuses to pay inspections costs

Dairy exports to China could be under threat after Defra refused to pay for the cost of inspections.

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The Chinese Government wants to carry out rigorous inspections of the UK dairy industry, but expects the costs to be covered by the UK, including flights, hotels, travel and subsistence, expected to be about £45,000.

 

Exports have been a key focus for the Government but Defra said it was not prepared to pay anything towards the costs and it needed to be paid by industry.

 

Somerdale International, a cheese exporter, has questioned why Defra could not raise the funds when it was putting so much money into Brexit preparations.

 

Exporters

 

Director Alan Jenkins highlighted it was a large amount of money for the, mainly small, companies involved in dairy exports.

 

Mr Jenkins said: “It is at a time when the Government is spending so much on Brexit, and saying so much about exports."


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Mr Jenkins has contacted Defra Secretary Michael Gove and his local MP for help, but has so far heard nothing from either, besides an acknowledgement his MP had received the letter.

 

The company has also been speaking to industry bodies, but AHDB said it did not have the funds to pay.

 

Dairy UK told Somerdale it was important the visit went ahead but funding would have to come from the industry and those who wanted to export to China.

 

But Mr Jenkins said this would be unfair as those not willing to pay could benefit from the money spent by those who did.

 

Ninety eight per cent of Somerdale’s exports went outside of the EU, with the US its largest market, and while China was relatively small it was a growing market with big opportunities, with export becoming even more important to the industry post-Brexit.

 

Mr Jenkins added: "If they are going to change how [support] is paid, export is really important. Export is key. They need to be a part of our growth.”

 

Defra

 

Defra said it was Government policy for the funding of inward inspections to funded by those who will benefit, and this had been accepted and applied in other livestock sectors, with the poultry industry funding a similar visit.

 

A Defra spokesperson said: “UK food and drink exporting is a success story. We already export to over 200 countries and territories round the world.

 

“The global sales of food and drink reached over £22 billion last year, thanks to our well-established reputation for taste, quality and high animal welfare standards.


“We are committed to supporting our food and drink industry grow more, sell more and export more British food.”

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