Cookstown’s pork factory may soon be providing meat to China if the country’s Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) approve of its processing standards.
A group of CNCA inspectors visited the Karro Foods factory on Monday to assess pork processing at the site in the latest stage of trade negotiations with the world’s largest economy.
On Tuesday, the team finished their inspections in the north at a second plant in north Antrim.
Following the visits, Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill announced that she intends to take discussions to the next level with a visit to China in June.
She said: “Relationship building is a key component in agreeing terms to trade with China and my planned visit in June will maintain the momentum on trade negotiations that I and my officials have made following our previous trips there.
“Securing approval to export pork meat is one of my key aims and should the inspections prove successful it will not only benefit Mid Ulster businesses, but others throughout the north, opening further opportunities for our pork meat industry.
“It is important to visit China to thank them for undertaking the important inspections of our processors as this is a key step in approving the north to export pork.”
Following the inspections at the two pork processing plants the CNCA is expected to make a final decision on whether to approve the export of local pig meat and pig meat products to China.
Prior to these visits inspectors from the Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine visited Northern Ireland on April 17 to assess pig trotter and other fifth quarter production standards.
Speaking about this visit, the Minister added: “Being able to export such fifth quarter, in addition to our high quality pork, is important for our industry as it will provide a valuable market for those parts of the animal which would not usually be consumed by the domestic market.
Securing approval to export pork meat is one of my key aims and should the inspections prove successful it will not only benefit Mid Ulster businesses, but others throughout the north - Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill
“The Chinese market is likely to provide a significant boost to agri-food producers.”