British farmers exporting thousands of breeding pigs to China

A delegation of British pig farmers is in China this week to further increase sales of live breeding pigs, pork and farm technology.

Jim Paice, the Food Minister, flew out to join the group yesterday and will spend much of the next week drumming up trade for British food exports.

China’s rapidly growing urban middle-class has developed a taste for pork and demand for the meat is soaring.

However Chinese pork is low quality and there is not enough to go around the estimated 230 million middle-class Chinese. Although China produces 46 million metric tones of pork a year, demand far outstrips supply. British farmers are therefore sending high-yielding and healthy pigs for breeding in China in order to increase pig numbers over there.

The pigs, which are mainly from the Large White, Landrace and Duroc breeds, sell for around £1,000 each. Farmers estimate that there is enough demand from China to export up to £20 million worth of breeding pigs a year. Farmers are also increasing meat exports to China…

Mr Paice said that there is “massive scope” to increase exports of breeding pigs, pork and farm technology to China, which will not be self-sufficient in pig meat “for the foreseeable future”…

“China has massive numbers of pigs but their genetics are very poor and their productivity in terms of pigs per sow is less than half of ours. So there is huge scope for selling breeding stock to China,” the minister said…

Chris Jackson, the British Pig Association executive who is leading the sales push in China, said that pork is the “meat of choice” for Chinese people. “They are consuming around 12 kilograms per head of population each year. That is about the same as in Britain…

Certainly, it’s useful to see British farmers realize the same gains through commerce with China as do our own agriculturists here in the United States.

We watched an interesting discussion the other night – watching Bernie Lo’s show from Hong Kong – with a leading investment analyst who specializes in Asia. When Bernie asked him which of the several market areas they had been discussing would produce the most consistent gains over the next decade of trade with China his answer was appropriately scientific – and somewhat surprising in its breadth. He said, “the protein stream”.

What he meant was everything that qualified as non-vegetable protein, e.g. poultry, pigs, cows. If it’s walking-around protein the growing middle class population in China was becoming interested in eating it. No so surprising, the interest in how people in many other cultures around the world prepare that protein is just as fascinating. Everyone wants new recipes, new cuisine.

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