UK processors Karro Food Group and Dunbia have said they are gearing up to start exports of pork products to China.

Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development yesterday (30 November) reported China had granted provisional approval to the country to start importing pork products.

Two companies – Karro and Dunbia – are the two companies with plants in Northern Ireland set to ship to China.

“We have made significant investment at our site in Cookstown, County Tyrone, as part of our preparations for further international trade to China and other markets,” said Di Walker, executive chair of Karro Food Group. “We expect this development to have both a positive impact on our business and also with our pig farming partners. We are hopeful of obtaining final approval shortly”.

Tony O’Neill, deputy CEO at Dunbia, said the approval came after the company attended trade missions and hosted Chinese delegations to the company’s pork facility in Ballymena.

“It is particularly satisfying to see the fruits of our combined labours reflected in the announcement. Developing export markets for the Northern Ireland agri-food industry is crucial for its future growth. There is still work to do but we are committed to developing and growing excellent business relationships with Chinese markets over the coming months and years. We need to ensure that we can maximise the relationships built to open the markets for other commodities including beef,” O’Neill said. “This immensely significant breakthrough for Northern Ireland pork in the world’s biggest marketplace should pave the way for our excellent pig producers here to access the extensive opportunities there.”

Neither company commented on when first shipments might be sent but final approval is subject to both firms completing additional work at their factories.