One of the driving forces behind the UK securing market access to China to export pork products has been honoured with a major award.
Mick Sloyan, who began his career with the Meat and Livestock Commission in 1977, has helped steer the industry through some tumultuous times, including the sow stall ban, the 1998 price crash and the loss of export markets after classical swine fever hit in 2000 and foot and mouth disease a year later.
He is perhaps best known for his role as senior director of AHDB Pork, formerly BPEX, which he retired from earlier this year.
Collecting the AHDB David Black Award at a special breakfast ceremony in the House of Lords this morning (November 6), Mr Sloyan said: “If I have learned anything in my career, it has been to keep things simple. If people get it, the industry will continue to succeed.”
Looking back on how the pig industry has changed over the years, he added: “Those in the sector who survived had a clear vision about what they wanted to do and how they wanted to succeed.
"We marketed aggressively, telling the story about high welfare and our highly professional industry. There was a real story to tell. We kept it simple, helped increase industry efficiency and helped people in the sector become more resilient."
Finding alternative markets was an important factor in the industry’s success, with Mr Sloyan working closely with his former colleague Stewart Houston, chairman of BPEX at the time, to open up opportunities in China.
“We decided to focus on China in 2004 where we achieved market access in 2011 – a real success story which continues to bear fruit,” said Mr Sloyan.
“From a standing start the market was worth £70 million a year by 2017 – almost twice the value of Scotch whisky exports to China.
"One of the things I love most about the industry is it looks to get on and find solutions."