Chinese consumers could be tucking into British beef by the end of the year.
British beef producers were set to enter the Chinese market by the end of the year following an agreement reached today (June 17) on beef market access.
The move could be worth an estimated £230 million for British producers in the first five years alone.
UK beef exports to China were banned in 1996.
But the UK-China Beef Protocol was signed today by Farming Minister Robert Goodwill and the Chinese Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming.
NFU livestock board chairman Richard Findlay said: “This is clearly very positive news for British beef producers, who now have the opportunity to supply one of the biggest markets in the world. This is a significant achievement by Defra and AHDB and a landmark step in growing our exports. The real success will be when the first shipment of British beef lands on Chinese shores.
“It is welcome recognition from the Chinese government that British beef is produced to some of the highest production and animal welfare standards in the world. As we look ahead to life outside of the EU, this is an important step to taking the British brand to new markets.”
International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox said it was welcome progress for ‘world-leading British beef producers’.
He said it followed years of hard work and was the ‘next step’ in realising the Government’s global trading ambitions.
“As we leave the European Union, we will continue to break down market access barriers to make it easier for UK businesses to trade across the world,” he said.
Mr Goodwill said it was a ‘major coup’ for the industry.
“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,” he said.
It follows the approval of five British pork plants to export to China, building on a market worth £70m per year.
It follows a successful inspection hosted last week by Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, the Food Standards Agency, DAERA in Northern Ireland, AHDB and the UK Export Certification Partnership (UKECP), in conjunction with beef farmers and food business operators.
AHDB international market development director Dr Phil Hadley said: “Today’s announcement is fantastic news for our meat processors, who are set to benefit massively from the opportunities this new agreement presents.
“It comes after many years spent working tirelessly to reopen access for our beef exports and it’s a real testament to the work of government and other industry bodies to make this happen. We look forward to seeing the first shipments leave the UK bound for China in the near future.”