China to lift UK pork import curbs ‘when there is evidence pandemic under control in UK’

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China will lift its suspension on pork imports from UK plants affected by COVID-19 when there is evidence the disease is under control in the UK, according to a Chinese official quoted in the Financial Times. 

The FT has highlighted pig sector’s request to Defra for a COVID support package, including a submission from processors reflecting the significant cost of lost exports to China from plants affected by COVID-19 outbreaks.

The industry estimates 1 million pig carcasses have been affected by the suspension of some exports to the world’s largest pork market.

“Margins in the meat industry are very tight at the best of times,”Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association told the FT. “So finding markets for these things like pigs’ heads is absolutely critical.”

Mr Allen told Pig World the loss of China sales is costing more than £15/pig, based on the difference between what the Chinese market pays and alternative outlets for the pork. With the two main affected plants, Cranswick’s Watton and Pilgrim’s Ashton sites, typically killing around 40,000 pigs between them a week, it is costing the industry around £600,000 per week over a long period, he said.

The FT article also quotes an official at China’s General Customs administration, who said China began suspending UK frozen meat imports last June after outbreaks in pork factories.

“There is evidence that the virus could stay alive in low-temperature environments. We would rather overreact, than not reacting, when it comes to virus prevention,” the official said. “We will lift the import curb when there is sufficient evidence that the pandemic is under full control in the UK. There is no sign that has happened.”

 

By Alistair Driver / Pig World

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