UK’s next big export to China: Pig's trotters?

In the ongoing push to sell U.K. goods to China, everything from renminbi trading to pig semen have been traded.

Next on the agenda could be pig's trotters, according to the U.K.'s industry body, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

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The value of U.K. food exports to China rose by 11.6 percent to £217.8 million last year, according to figures released on Monday, with salmon and dairy products posting the fastest growth rates.

And it is hoped pork products will help drive growth in coming years, as the Chinese government is due to decide on whether to approve imports of pig trotters -- a delicacy in China which is rather less popular in the U.K.

"They eat bits of the carcass we wouldn't consume, and vice versa," Steve Barnes, economic and commercial services director at the FDF, told CNBC.

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"Pigs faces, trotters and offal – things which would normally go in the incinerator here. Chinese diets are Westernising and there is a massive increase in demand for pork."

The U.K. has also recently appointed an agriculture and food counselor in China for the first time. They start in April and will be based in the British embassy in Beijing.

This should help make further inroads into China's tightly-controlled food market.

Whisky out?

However, the Chinese seem to be drinking less Scottish whisky after the crackdown on graft by Premier Li Keqiang. Global exports of whisky, which is the U.K.'s largest food and drink export, fell by 7.4 percent from 2013, to £4 billion last year.

And the British cuppa does not seem to be faring too well abroad either, with tea exports down 28 percent last year, the FDF's figures revealed. Salmon, chocolate, cheese and beef were the country's biggest food exports worldwide in 2014.

One surprising export market which posted growth was Algeria, where there was a more-than 200 percent increase in U.K. imports. This was caused by a shortage in wheat in Algeria, after a poor crop in France which usually supplies its former colony with much of its wheat.

A slump in exports to Russia following the introduction of sanctions by the West against the country, and vice versa, hit the dairy industry, which ramped up production last year amid good growing conditions. While the value of dairy exports rose overall, the price farmers were getting for their milk was dampened by the rise in production, as well as a supermarket price war at home.

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"What happened with Russia triggered off series of events that depressed dairy prices," Barnes said.

One further cloud on the horizon is the strong pound, which could hurt exports as the European Union -- where many countries use the weaker euro -- remains the U.K. food industry's biggest export market. A strong pound makes U.K. exports more expensive on the global market.

"It's a tough one to call. We may have enough cachet for customers to pay a higher price," Barnes said. "We import a lot of raw materials so we should be benefiting from the strength of the pound there."

- By CNBC's Catherine Boyle