British farmers will soon begin exporting pig semen to their Chinese counterparts as the UK seeks to capitalise on a rocketing appetite for meat.
David Cameron used his trip to China to help push through a deal with the Chinese government that opens the way for Britain to begin selling material for artificial insemination early next year, as part of his push to encourage bilateral trade between the two countries.
China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork.
The government believes the deal could be worth up to ￡45m a year to companies, in combination with live pig exports, although some industry experts say the figure could be substantially less.
British companies currently cannot export pig semen under Beijing’s biological safety rules.
Downing Street said: “We’re doing all we can to ensure that businesses up and down the country reap the rewards from our relationship with China. And that includes our pig farmers.
“This new deal to export pig semen will mean Britain’s best pigs will help sustain the largest pig population in the world.”
British farmers have been pushing for such a agreement for some time, aware that China’s growing appetite for pork has not been matched by a similar increase in the efficiency of its farming methods.
Using better semen to breed pig stocks is one of the ways Chinese farmers want to use to improve their yields without wreaking environmental damage.
The announcement builds on one the government has already made – that it has also opened the way for farmers to start selling pig trotters to China, where they are hugely popular as a culinary delicacy.