FROM NEXT year Britain is going to begin exporting pig semen to Chinese farmers in a deal worth £45 million to UK industry. Despite being home to half the world's pigs – and the largest consumers of pork in the world - the authorities in Beijing are concerned about the quality of their stock.
Under the deal with China, the "porcine semen" can be flown to the country in frozen and fresh form. The deal was struck by the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, who was part of David Cameron’s trade delegation to China this week.
A No 10 spokesperson 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 be worth £45m to UK firms and means Britain's best pigs will help sustain the largest pig population in the world.
"And we're not stopping there, we're talking to the Chinese about serving up pigs trotters on Beijing's finest dining tables. That would be a real win-win – a multimillion pound boost for Britain and a gastronomic treat for Chinese diners."
Four UK artificial insemination centres, based in England and Northern Ireland, will start making preparations for the exports in the New Year. Half of the world's pigs are in China but the country needs to improve pig genetics. A government source said: "China has an interest to increase the efficiency of their production, while minimising the environmental impact of increased production. The UK industry for pig production can play a large and important role in helping China achieve greater efficiency through the provision of high-quality genetic stock.
"UK porcine semen will be key to help the Chinese improve their pig production and make the industry more productive in the long term. The quantities are not the important factor for this trade; it is the quality that is important."
Britain's burgeoning pig semen exports come alongside the country's bovine semen market, which helps artificially inseminate cows. Interested markets include Kenya and Albania, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada and the Falkland Islands.