Britain to export pig semen to China in $74 million deal
British farmers are to begin exporting pig semen to China next year in a deal said to be worth £45 million ($73.6 million), as the U.K. looks to take advantage of Chinese consumers' growing appetite for high-quality meat.
Despite being home to half of the world's pigs, and the largest consumer of pork, Chinese authorities are concerned about the quality of the country's stock.
The deal will allow British pig semen to be used to artificially inseminate Chinese pigs and improve their genetic make-up.
The agreement was struck between the two countries during a three-day visit by British Prime Minister David Cameron, as he looks to drum up investment in the U.K. from the world's second largest economy.
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At least four artificial insemination centers are due to start exporting in the New Year. The protocol signed between the two countries allows fresh and frozen semen to be shipped to China depending on demand.
Using British semen to breed stock is one of the ways Chinese farmers are looking to increase their efficiency and improve yields without causing environmental damage.
"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," U.K. media reported a government spokesperson as saying.
"This new deal to export pig semen will be worth £45 million to U.K. firms and means Britain's best pigs will help sustain the largest pig population in the world."
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The British government also announced it is talking to the Chinese about exporting pigs' trotters, which are not eaten in the U.K. and are thrown away after the animal is slaughtered.
Pigs' trotters are seen as a delicacy in China and the government estimates the market could be worth £7.5 million a year to Britain.
"Pig trotters at home will often go to waste, but in China they are a real delicacy. Opening an export market for trotters worth £7.5 million will be a further boost for our farming industry on top of the deals we have made on pig semen and cuts of pork last year," the environment minister Owen Paterson said in a statement.
"I want to press forward with this and other trade deals that will create an enduring legacy of lucrative export opportunities for British businesses."
—By CNBC's Arjun Kharpal: Follow him on Twitter @ArjunKharpal