Cookstown pork factory set to benefit from provisional export deal with China

Minister O'Neill during a trade mission in China
Minister O'Neill during a trade mission in China

News that a provisional pork export deal has been struck with China, may benefit Cookstown’s Karro Foods.

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has announced that the north has been provisionally recommended for approval to export pork to China.

While Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell said two NI pork plants are set to benefit from the deal.

A group of CNCA inspectors from China visited the Karro Foods factory in April to assess pork processing in Cookstown as part of trade negotiations with the world’s largest economy.

A second plant in north Antrim was also included during the visit.

Welcoming the announcement as a step forward and a boost to the local agri-food industry, Minister O’Neill said: “I am delighted that China’s certification agency, the CNCA has announced its intention to approve plants in the north of Ireland to export pork subject to them completing some remedial actions identified as part of their audit earlier this year.

“My officials are working closely with the two pork processors to ensure this work is progressed expeditiously and to a very high standard.

“This welcome step forward follows my third visit to China in June which was focused on negotiating these vital pork approvals. I am pleased that my efforts have borne fruit. Securing approval was also made possible by us hosting two inward inspections by Chinese officials in April of this year.”

Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell has also welcomed confirmation that two NI pork plants have been provisionally recommended for approval to export to China.

He said: “There is huge potential for Northern Ireland in this huge marketplace, which is why our local companies have participated in Food Hotel China with Invest NI for the past four years.

“There is no quick fix to doing business in China; relationships and trust have to be built up over time. Our companies have been doing that through various trade missions, including Food Hotel China, and are now beginning to see tangible benefits.

“Today’s announcement by China’s certification agency, the CNCA, is further proof that our food companies are beginning to gain traction in the market and this should significantly boost our economy in the near future.”