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Agricultural Exports

Volume 547: debated on Thursday 5 July 2012

In January we published the joint Government-industry action plan, “Driving Export Growth in the Farming, Food and Drink Sector”. Since then we have worked closely with a number of organisations, including the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board, to promote UK agriculture in a number of target markets, and we are pursuing all opportunities to export fine British food.

May I thank the Secretary of State for supporting the recent Worcestershire day in Parliament, to which all six Worcestershire MPs invited local food and drink producers? Does the ministerial team agree that there are many other producers in the county who could join the legendary Lea and Perrins in becoming known around the world?

My hon. Friend puts his finger on an important point: the value of brands. The Lea and Perrins brand is obviously extremely well known and Britain has a great tradition of good food brands from Worcestershire and elsewhere, so we are taking every opportunity and doing everything we can to support the British food industry to export and build on those excellent brand reputations.

My right hon. Friend will be aware that we export more food and drink to Belgium than we do to Brazil, Russia, India, China and Mexico combined. I am aware that he has recently been to China. What action is he taking to encourage more exports to some of these fast-growing, emerging economies?

My hon. Friend is entirely right to use that statistic, which I have used many times. He is also right to say that I recently took a food trade mission to China, representing a number of sectors of the British food industry. The most important result was that we opened up the Chinese market to British pigmeat exports, which the industry believes could be worth some £50 million a year. What is interesting is that the industry would not just be exporting the conventional cuts that we eat in this country, because China has an appetite for other parts of the pig, sometimes called the fifth quarter, which will add value to many pigs, not just those exported as full carcasses. He is absolutely right about there being plenty of other opportunities. In particular, we are targeting the Russian market to complete the process of opening it up for the British beef industry.