Two East Anglia pig breeding firms are set to share in a new China export bonanza for the UK, potentially worth millions.
A Chinese delegation attracted to Britain by Cambridge-based BPA (The Pig Breeders’ Association) is set to sign a £1.5 million initial deal for 1,000 genetically bred pigs.
But add-ons will more than double that figure and BPA export promoter Chris Jackson says that over the next five years the China connection could be worth more than £20m to the UK.
It’s not quite a ‘bacon to Beijing’ story as the latest client is from a central province rather than the north, but it is the fourth major deal involving China in the last two years, BPA reveals.
The identity of the local firms in line for the windfall are being kept under wraps until the deal is signed and sealed but the latest contract is another coup for the East Anglia region and the UK, which according to Jackson is a clear world leader.
The potential new business follows a trade mission to China. BPA was on the BPEX stand at the China International Meat Industry Exhibition jointly funded by BPEX and UKTI.
And it maintains a remarkable export record for the UK. Jackson told Business Weekly: “Since BPA was established in 1920 we have exported Large White pigs to China. I believe we have the only commodity that has been continuously exported to China for such a long period of time. We’re talking the best part of a century.
“And we are still breeding the best pigs in the world. European countries like France and Denmark claim to have the edge in volume but they will produce more pigs because they keep them closely confined.
“Our animals are free range and reared in a welfare system and are the highest quality. We are the only country in the world that uses genetics and a welfare system to rear our animals; the Europeans have signed up to do so but do not – they use growth enhancers and antibiotics, so ethically we also hold an edge.”
BPEX director Mick Sloyan, who hosted a dinner for the China visitors, added: “The Chinese are bringing their agriculture up-to-date at a tremendous rate and British pigs use less feed, therefore produce much less manure and they also need less land. This will in turn reduce the environmental impact quite markedly.”